It will take Ukraine at least 20 to 25 years to join the European Union and NATO, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said March 3.
"Ukraine will definitely not be able to become a member of the EU in the next 20 to 25 years, and not of NATO either," he said in a speech at The Hague.
While Juncker did not explain why Ukraine would have to wait so long, his speech was aimed at reassuring Dutch voters that this year's free-trade agreement between Ukraine and the EU was not a first step toward quickly joining the European Union.
Despite his prediction, the EU has been paving the way for visa-free travel to the bloc for Ukrainian citizens while providing Kyiv with a generous $40 billion bailout along with the United States and the International Monetary Fund to help it maintain economic stability amid a war with Russia-backed separatists.
NATO also sent a reassuring message to Ukraine last year by holding military exercises there in a show of force against Russia, which has repeatedly denounced the alliance's eastern expansion as a threat to its national security.
But Juncker's comments suggest that Ukraine's ambition to join Europe, frequently expressed by leaders in Kyiv, will not be fulfilled anytime soon.
Based on reporting by dpa and 112 International TV