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.