Ukraine has formally submitted its application to join the NATO alliance, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Friday.
Zelensky, in a video update, said Ukraine was “taking a decisive step for…[the] security of free nations.”
Russia has long feared Ukraine joining the alliance since it got closer to the West, and Putin has repeatedly issued threats to scare the nation into staying out of it.
Ukraine a de facto part of NATO
If Ukraine’s application is successful and it officially joins the alliance, member states would be obligated to defend it against Russia. This means that both the UK and the US would be obliged to send military troops.
According to Zelensky, “We have already made our way to NATO. We have already proven compatibility with the alliance’s standards.”
He added that “they are real for Ukraine—real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction. We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other. That’s what the alliance is. De facto.”
“Today, Ukraine is applying to make it de jure,” the Ukrainian President said. “In a process that is consistent with our value in protecting our entire community in an expedited manner, we are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application for accelerated accession to NATO.”
Zelensky response: He says Ukraine is de facto part of NATO alliance. “Today, Ukraine is applying to make it de jure… We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine's application for accelerated accession to NATO.” pic.twitter.com/8Bb8G8xnaF
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) September 30, 2022
Putin: we will defend our land with all our strength
Ukraine’s decision to join NATO comes just after Russia said it would annex four regions of Ukraine that it seized amid its war. Russia held gunpoint referendums in the regions, though these were viewed as illegitimate by the international community.
In a grand signing ceremony at the Great Kremlin Palace today, Putin welcomed the seized regions of Ukraine to Russia. During the ceremony, Putin formally declared Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia as Russian territory.
In his speech, Putin maintained, “people living in Luhansk, Donetsk, [and the] Kherson…and Zaporizhzhia [regions] are becoming our citizens forever,” as “people have made their choice—and that choice is beyond any doubt […]. This is the will of millions of people.” The Russian leader also vowed to “defend our land with all means” and said the people living in the purportedly stolen Ukrainian regions are “our citizens forever.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he would hold a briefing on Friday, September 30, 2022 at 7 PM.