KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine is applying for “accelerated accession” to NATO, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday, in an apparent response to Russia’s illegal annexation of four parts of the country’s occupied territories respond.
The rhetoric is more symbolic than practical: Ukraine’s quick accession to the alliance would require member states to immediately send troops to fight Russia in accordance with their collective defense obligations.
Ukraine has long sought to join NATO, but Zelensky acknowledged in March that despite receiving security aid from Western military alliance countries, Ukraine had to accept that it would not be accepted into the Western military alliance.
“In fact, we have entered NATO,” Zelensky said in a cable statement. “In fact, we have demonstrated compatibility with coalition standards. They are real for Ukraine — real in every aspect of our interactions on the battlefield. We trust each other, help each other, and protect each other.”
In fact, the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO will only increase in the course of the Russian invasion. Member states, including the United States, have drawn the line: They arm Ukraine, but they don’t have their own troops stationed there for fear of sparking a world war.
Zelensky’s statement came just an hour after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Moscow’s illegal annexation of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions already partially occupied by Russian troops. Zelensky was meeting with his National Security Council when Putin spoke. “There will be no negotiations with Russia during Putin’s presidency,” Zelensky’s chief of staff Andrei Yermak said on Telegram. “We’re going. Towards victory.”