There is no way of having consensus among NATO members on extending membership to Georgia or Ukraine “any time in the near future,” U.S. ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute said on April 22.
Responding to a question at the Aspen Security Forum in London if Russia now has a veto on NATO expansion, Lute responded: “I think Russia plays an important part in the strategic environment and the strategic environment will put a brake on NATO expansion.”
“If you accept the premises that we’ve heard here [during panel discussion] about Russia’s internal weakness, and perhaps steady decline and so forth, it may not make sense to push further now and maybe accelerate or destabilize that decline, so in practical terms I don’t think there is much additional room in near term, next several years perhaps or even longer for additional NATO expansion,” he said.
“Policy line of course is that open door remains open… In policy terms it won’t go away, we won’t set it aside, but in practical terms I don’t think there is much promise for next several years,” the U.S. ambassador said.
Noting that decision on expansion requires consensus of all 28 member states, Lute also added: “There’s no way we’re going to get consensus any time in the near future on adding Georgia or Ukraine.”