The United States is pushing NATO to the "most unfavorable" confrontation with Russia with the decisions expected from the alliance's summit in Lithuania this week, while Kyiv's allies are "losing" in Ukraine, Russian diplomats have warned.
Divisions in NATO are expected to prevent the Western military alliance from offering Kyiv a date for accession or a straightforward invitation to join during the summit taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday, Reuters commented.
The Kremlin has said that Kyiv's potential membership in the Western alliance would be a threat and Moscow will react clearly and firmly.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday it would be absurd if Ukraine is not offered a time frame for NATO membership at the summit.
"It's unprecedented and absurd when (a) time frame is not set, neither for the invitation (to join NATO) nor for Ukraine's membership. While at the same time vague wording about 'conditions' is added even for inviting Ukraine," he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
A senior U.S. official said President Joe Biden would meet with Zelensky at the summit on Wednesday.
'De facto' member
Zelensky earlier said he expects the summit in Vilnius to confirm that Ukraine is already a "de facto "member and work out an "algorithm" for Kyiv to officially join it.
His team has been pressing NATO for a clear path for Ukraine to join once the conflict with Russia is over.
Moscow said it was following the NATO summit closely and that it would take "measures" to protect Russia's own security.
Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov said Washington is preparing anti-Russian decisions at the NATO summit.
"Everything is being done to prepare the local public opinion for the approval of any anti-Russian decisions that will be made in Vilnius in the coming days," Antonov said in a post on the embassy's Telegram channel.
Konstantin Gavrilov, a Vienna-based Russian diplomat and a senior security negotiator, told the Russian RIA state news agency in an interview the West is "losing" in Ukraine.
Kyiv's so-called counteroffensive, which began last month, has been proceeding more slowly than hoped, but Ukraine's military said on Monday its forces had caught occupying Russian troops "in a trap" in the shattered eastern city of Bakhmut.
Separately, the Kremlin confirmed on Monday that President Vladimir Putin had met with Wagner private military group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and his fighters after their brief mutiny last month.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Putin had welcomed Prigozhin and 34 Wagner commanders at the Kremlin on June 29.
"The commanders themselves outlined their version of events, emphasizing that they are soldiers and staunch supporters of the head of state and the supreme commander-in-chief," Peskov said.