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President Volodymyr Zelensky Concedes Ukraine Is Not Joining NATO: Here's What It Means

Bobins Abraham
Bobins Abraham
Updated on Mar 16, 2022, 13:20 IST- 3 min read -746 Shares

In what could be described as the strongest signal yet from Ukraine towards ending the war, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his country should accept it will not become a member of NATO.

"Ukraine is not a member of NATO. We understand that. We have heard for years that the doors were open, but we also heard that we could not join. It's a truth and it must be recognised," Zelensky said during a video conference with military officials.

Volodymyr Zelensky NATO AFP

The potential NATO membership of Ukraine was one of the key reasons for the hostilities Moscow had against Kyiv.

This was a guarantee that Russia had sought from Ukraine before it invaded the country last month.

Three weeks into the war, other than speeches of solidarity and economic sanctions, NATO has done little to nothing to help Ukraine in the war.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg AFP

Ukraine's appeal for more arms and closing off NATO airspace to Russia fallen on deaf ears.

Many observers have said that NATO is unwilling to get dragged into the war, which is happening in its backyards.

Moscow's other demands to end the war include Ukraine turning away from the West and recognize Moscow-backed breakaway regions.

Ceasefire demands

Ukraine is pushing for a ceasefire and Russian troop withdrawal. President Zelensky sounded a note of cautious optimism about ongoing peace talks and claimed Russia was realising victory would not come on the battlefield.

Volodymyr Zelensky NATO AFP

He said early Wednesday that Russia’s demands were becoming “more realistic.”

“Efforts are still needed, patience is needed,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation. “Any war ends with an agreement.”

While both Moscow and Kyiv signaled progress in ceasefire talks, a Ukrainian presidential aide, Mykhailo Podolyiak, cautioned that while “compromise” was possible, “fundamental contradictions” remained.

This comes as Russian forces pressed in on Kyiv Tuesday.

war in Ukraine AP

Ukraine's capital has been transformed into a war zone, with apartment blocks badly damaged by Russian bombardment and half of the city's 3.5 million people now gone.

Russian troops surround the city to the north and east, and authorities have set up checkpoints, as residents queued outside Kyiv supermarkets to stock up on food and medicine ahead of the curfew.

Overnight, Russian shelling also caused massive damage at the airport in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, regional authorities said.

"Two strikes. The runway was destroyed. The terminal is damaged. Massive destruction," said regional governor Valentin Reznichenko.

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