President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine disclosed a bid for fast-track membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) military alliance on Friday.
The accelerated move comes in a swift reaction to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of the annexation of four war-laden Ukrainian regions.
Zelensky signed the NATO application papers in an online video intended as strong opposition to the Kremlin after Putin held a ceremony in Moscow to proclaim the four partially occupied regions as annexed Russian land.
“We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to NATO,” Zelensky said in the video on the Telegram app.
Reuters said the video showed Zelenskiy was exhausted as he announced the membership bid and signed a document flanked by his prime minister and the speaker of parliament.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, it was demanding legally binding guarantees that Ukraine would never be admitted to the United States-led transatlantic defence alliance.
Kyiv and the West have said Moscow used this as a pretext to launch a pre-planned military campaign against Ukraine.
By applying for accelerated membership of NATO, Zelensky seemed to be showing Putin is failing in one of his main war goals – preventing Ukraine from joining NATO.
In his video speech, Zelenskiy accused Russia of rewriting history and redrawing borders “using murder, blackmail, mistreatment and lies,” something he said Kyiv would not allow.
He said however that Kyiv remained committed to the idea of co-existence with Russia “on equal, honest, dignified and fair conditions”.
“Clearly, with this Russian president (that) is impossible. He does not know what dignity and honesty are. Therefore, we are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia,” Zelensky said.