"Speaking as a mom and as a strategist and a lifetime student and friend of the Russian people, I would love to live in a world where Russia wanted to be a NATO member and Russia had met the very high standards that NATO sets for openness, democracy, reform, rule of law that new NATO members must meet," Victoria Nuland said in an interview with RIA Novosti and the Argumenty i Fakty weekly.
She stressed that she was expressing her personal opinion, adding that former Russian president Vladimir Putin had previously ruled out NATO membership for Russia.
She said she hoped Russia would eventually come to value NATO.
"I do think, as President Bush said to President Putin and said to everybody in Bucharest during the NATO-Russia Council, we've got more work to do to help [people sitting at] Russian kitchen tables understand today's NATO," Nuland said.
On the issue of Ukraine and Georgia's membership, she said they were not ready to join NATO yet.
Ukraine and Georgia failed to secure membership of an action plan paving the way to accession to the bloc at a NATO summit in spring, but were told the decision would be reviewed in December.
"There is not a single NATO member who would say today that Ukraine and Georgia are ready to be NATO members," she said.
She added that the United States supported the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Georgia and Ukraine at the Bucharest summit because "MAP is NATO's training program which helps countries strengthen their democracy, strengthen their reform, solve the kinds of internal problems that both of those countries have so that they can qualify."
The ambassador said she thought it would be a number of years before Ukraine and Georgia could become fully-fledged members.
"It will be a number of years because they have a lot of work to do. How many years would be dependent on how quickly the internal issues were addressed and how well we work together," she said.