"It would take Russian troops several days to overrun Ukraine," Rasmussen told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper.
Ukraine dropped its non-aligned status in 2014, opening the door for potential NATO membership. The following year, President Petro Poroshenko signed a military doctrine stipulating the need to match NATO standards by 2020 and promised a referendum on accession.
Despite Kiev’s efforts, NATO officials have repeatedly stressed that the Eastern European nation needed to implement a wide range of reforms before pursuing the Alliance’s membership.
Since the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, NATO has been boosting its presence in Eastern Europe citing Russia's alleged interference in Kiev’s internal conflict as justification for their actions.
In turn, Moscow has repeatedly denied the unsubstantiated allegations of involvement in Ukraine, warning that amassing troops and military equipment on its borders is a provocative action that violates past NATO pledges, and can lead to regional and global destabilization.