A Russian Security Council official said Thursday that Ukraine joining NATO would guarantee World War III when commenting on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent attempt to join the alliance.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech on annexing Ukrainian territory on September 30, Zelensky submitted a “fast-track” application to join NATO, which was quickly shot down.
Alexander Venediktov, the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said that Zelensky’s application was a propaganda move. “Kyiv is well aware that such a step would mean a guaranteed escalation to World War Three,” he said.
Venediktov said that the US and its allies also recognize that Ukraine can’t join NATO without sparking a world war. “The suicidal nature of such a step is understood by NATO members themselves,” he said.
During the lead-up to Russia’s February 24 invasion, Putin was seeking a guarantee from the US that Ukraine won’t ever join NATO. Even though President Biden made clear at the time that Ukraine wouldn’t be joining the alliance anytime in the foreseeable future, he refused to make the promise.
Back in March, when seemingly discussing the period before the war, Zelensky said he asked for a straight answer about whether or not Ukraine would become a NATO member. He was told no, but that “publicly,” the door would remain open.
“I requested them personally to say directly that we are going to accept you into NATO in a year or two or five, just say it directly and clearly, or just say no,” he told CNN. “And the response was very clear, you’re not going to be a NATO member, but publicly, the doors will remain open.”
While NATO has no plans to accept Ukraine as a full member, Politico reported Wednesday that the alliance it is working on a 10-year plan to rebuild the country’s military and arms industry. The idea would be to focus on shifting the country from using Soviet equipment to primarily using NATO weapons, making it a de facto NATO member.