Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Friday that Ukraine is officially applying to join NATO under its expedited application process.
Zelenskyy made the announcement after a meeting of Ukraine’s National Security Council, which coincided with a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin claimed Russia is attempting to decolonize Ukraine from Western influence and spoke glowingly about Russian imperialism and the Soviet Union.
Zelensky response: He says Ukraine is de facto part of NATO alliance. “Today, Ukraine is applying to make it de jure… We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to NATO.” pic.twitter.com/8Bb8G8xnaF
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) September 30, 2022
Putin used his speech to highlight this week’s referendums in southeast Ukraine, in which four Russian-occupied territories allegedly voted to be annexed by Russia. However, experts and international observers widely agree the referendums were shams. The Russian president has also alluded in recent weeks to the possibility that Russia would use nuclear weapons to aid its invasion of Ukraine.
Zelenskyy released a video in which he argued that Ukraine is already a de facto part of NATO, and that now the country wanted to make it official. NATO members are legally bound in a mutual defense pact in which the other members must come to the defense of any member that is attacked. No NATO members have committed troops to defend Ukraine against Russian aggression, although they have continued to provide financial and military aid since the war began.
The Ukrainian leader also indicated that peace would not be possible without regime change in Russia. “It is obvious this is impossible with this Russian president. He does not know what dignity and honesty is,” he said. “Therefore, we are ready for dialogue with Russia, but with another Russian president.” (RELATED: German Authorities Fear Nord Stream Pipelines May Be Permanently Unusable Following Sabotage)
NATO has already begun the expansion process since the Russian invasion began, with nearly all members having ratified an agreement to add Sweden and Finland to the alliance. However, Ukraine had not previously been allowed to join the alliance due to alleged democratic deficiencies, and Russia has indicated that Ukraine joining NATO is a red line it will not allow to be crossed.