Kyiv formally requested “accelerated membership” to join NATO on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced, in response to Moscow’s formal annexation of four regions of Ukraine.
“We trust each other, we help each other and we protect each other. This is what the Alliance is. De facto. Today Ukraine is asking to do so de jure,” Zelenskyy said in a video address.
Joining the alliance requires the unanimous approval of all 30 member countries.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Moscow demanded binding guarantees from Kyiv not to join the US-led security alliance, and used this as a pretext to launch the invasion .
Zelenskyy’s announcement comes on the heels of a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he pledged to use all the powers at his disposal to defend four Ukrainian territories after annexation referendums. The referendums have been condemned by European countries as a pretext to further “violate” Ukraine’s sovereignty.
During his speech, Putin called on Kyiv to cease all military action and said Moscow was open to negotiations, although Ukraine has long insisted it will not stop fighting until Russian forces will not have completely left the country.
Zelenskyy responded in his own speech that while Ukraine was open to negotiations, it was “impossible” to do so with Putin, and would have to be with another Russian president.