“We are left alone in defense of our state. Who is ready to fight with us? Honestly — I do not see such. Who is ready to guarantee Ukraine’s accession to NATO? Honestly, everyone is afraid,” Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian leader said he asked European leaders about Ukraine’s potential NATO membership but didn’t get an answer. “Today, I asked the twenty-seven leaders of Europe whether Ukraine will be in NATO. I asked directly. Everyone is afraid. They do not answer,” he said.
Russia has said it’s willing to negotiate Ukraine’s “terms of surrender,” which include Kyiv declaring its neutrality. Zelensky said Ukraine is “not afraid” to talk about this issue with Russia and a potential ceasefire.
“We are not afraid to talk to Russia. We are not afraid to say everything about security guarantees for our state. We are not afraid to talk about neutral status. We are not in NATO now … We need to talk about the end of this invasion. We need to talk about a ceasefire,” he said.
For now, Zelensky said, Ukraine is depending on its military to fight off the Russians. But Zelensky’s comments signal that he is starting to accept the reality that there is no NATO membership in Ukraine’s future.
Over the past few months, the US and Russia have been engaged in talks over security proposals presented by Moscow. Chief among Russia’s demands is a guarantee that Ukraine won’t ever join NATO. President Biden has recently said that it’s “not likely” Ukraine would be joining the alliance in the “near term,” but he still ignored the Russian request.
Even as Russian missiles are pounding Ukraine, and Moscow has made it clear the assault is about Ukraine’s alignment with NATO, Biden has made no effort to make the promise that could potentially end the war. In remarks on Thursday, Biden said he has “no plans” to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin.