On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine should acknowledge that it will not become a member of NATO and questioned the alliance’s commitment to mutual defense.
“It is clear that Ukraine is not a member of NATO; we understand this. … For years we heard about the apparently open door, but have already also heard that we will not enter there, and these are truths and must be acknowledged,” Zelensky said in an address to the leaders of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).
Leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow was seeking guarantees from the US that Kyiv won’t ever join NATO. But the US insisted NATO would keep its “open door” policy. President Biden refused to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a written guarantee on the issue even though he acknowledged Ukraine wouldn’t join the alliance anytime soon.
Since Russia launched its assault, Ukraine and Russia have been holding talks on a potential ceasefire, and one of Russia’s key demands is that Ukraine declares its neutrality.
Zelensky has been pleading with NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would require the alliance to directly go to war with Russia. Zelensky suggested to the JEF leaders that he wasn’t sure if the military alliance would take action even if Russian warplanes entered NATO territory.
“We always talk about how our sky needs to be defended like the alliance’s sky, but — we understand that there is always a ‘but,'” Zelensky said. “What will be the response of NATO to members of the alliance in Eastern Europe if they ask for protection, if Russian missiles fly to them or, God forbid, Russian planes?”