Instead, other less formal measures preparing the way, such as raising the standards of equipment, will be pursued.
This, it is hoped, will enable Nato to say that the goal is being maintained and only the pace of progress is being changed.
Washington is supporting this approach, which it feels might offer a more informal, and potentially easier, track for the two applicants.
Put into the wider context of relations with Russia, the developments represent a victory for the Russians in that membership is being delayed into the future and into the term of a new American administration.
Not that the secretary of state-to-be, Hillary Clinton, is likely to soft-pedal further. She strongly supports the governments of both Georgia and Ukraine.
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