“On that issue there are different views in the alliance and of course the only way to make decisions in NATO is by consensus,” Stoltenberg told a conference in Brussels, AFP reported.
Ukraine – backed by NATO countries in eastern Europe – is calling for a “clear message” at a July summit of alliance leaders in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius that it will join after war ends.
Kyiv concedes it will not become a member while fighting rages on its territory. But it wants the alliance to move beyond a vague 2008 pledge that it will one day be in NATO.
“No one is able to tell you exactly what will be the final decision at the Vilnius summit on this issue,” Stoltenberg said.
Diplomats from NATO countries say its dominant military power, the United States, is reluctant to go further than the vow on membership made to Ukraine 15 years ago.
Joining NATO would mean that Ukraine would be covered by the alliance’s Article 5 collective defence clause that obliges all allies to help defend it if attacked.
Ukraine’s Western allies are mulling if other forms of security assurances can be offered to Ukraine that would reassure Kyiv as an interim step before it became a NATO member.
France on Tuesday said it is willing to reach a deal with Ukraine on “security guarantees which will help it to defend itself in the long-term”.