Ukraine admits it won’t be part of NATO
NATO allies don’t want to see Ukraine among their ranks and Kiev realizes that, President Volodymyr Zelensky told Western leaders on Tuesday. Now Kiev seeks protection from individual member states.
“We’ve been hearing for years that the [NATO] doors were supposedly open, but now we know we won’t enter there. That is the truth, and we must acknowledge that,” Zelensky said during a video call with the UK Joint Expeditionary Force, a meeting of the leaders of Nordic and Baltic nations hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“I am glad that our people are beginning to understand that and to rely on ourselves and those partners that aid us,” he added.
The Ukrainian leader apparently included the people he was addressing on the list of good friends of Ukraine, despite most of them leading NATO allies. He said the military organization was in no position to offer the security guarantees that his country wants to receive from other nations. But individual states could help Ukraine even with NATO doors closed to it, he suggested, and have been doing so for eight years of what he described as a Ukrainian war against Russia.
Zelensky shamed NATO for not imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine due to concerns that this would escalate the hostilities into a full-blown world war. The refusal to impose it is shared by all members of the organization, with US, its de facto leader, reiterating it on many occasions over the past weeks.
The Ukrainian leader claimed NATO member states “hypnotized themselves” with the fear of a global conflict that would have the potential of ending human civilization. He didn’t hide bitterness over the fact that allies refused to protect Ukraine the way they are bound to defend each other in case of a military attack.
Ukraine made NATO membership a key goal of its foreign policy after the 2014 armed coup in Kiev put an anti-Russian government into power. The aspiration was made part of its national constitution in 2019.
Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine in late February. President Vladimir Putin stated that NATO’s creeping expansion into Ukraine without its formal accession was a major factor in his decision to order the incursion. Kiev blasted the attack as “unprovoked.”
Western nations mostly agreed but refused to fight for Ukraine militarily. Instead, they ramped up weapons supplies to Kiev and imposed harsh economic sanctions against Russia, expecting them to inflict enough damage to stop the military offensive.