Zelensky ‘less passionate’ about Ukraine joining NATO
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that NATO is afraid that having Kiev join the US-led bloc will spark a conflict with Russia. The statement comes amid the Russian military campaign against his country.
Zelensky was asked by ABC News on Monday if he was willing to renounce Ukraine’s bid to join NATO one day.
“I’ve become less passionate about this issue after we understood that NATO isn’t ready to accept Ukraine. The alliance is afraid of controversial things and a confrontation with Russia,” Zelensky said.
“I’ve never wanted Ukraine to be a country that is on its knees, begging for something. And we’re not going to be that country.”
The president said Kiev will not accept ultimatums from Moscow or “a capitulation,” but confirmed that he was ready for direct negotiations with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
Russia attacked the neighboring state on February 24, insisting that it was defending the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke away from Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev. Russia demands that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO.
Kiev said the Russian offensive was completely unjustified and denied claims that it was planning to retake the rebellious republics by force.
NATO demanded that Moscow “immediately cease its military assault” and withdraw troops from Ukraine. The EU pledged to help Ukraine acquire weapons, while many countries around the world, including the majority of NATO members, imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia.