Ukrainian President calls for immediate NATO membership

After Vladimir Putin's speech certifying the annexation of Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions

AFP PHOTO/Ukrainian presidential press service  -   Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenski

The reaction of Volodimir Zelensky, President of Ukraine, was swift after the speech by Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, in which, surrounded by the faithful and national symbolism, he announced the official annexation of Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporiyia and Kherson, the areas partially occupied by Russian forces in which referendums on self-determination were held, which have been branded illegal by a large majority of countries. 

The Ukrainian leader on Friday called for immediate membership of the North Atlantic Organisation (NATO) in response to Russia's annexation of the occupied regions of Ukraine. According to Zelenski, his country has already demonstrated that it meets the Atlantic Alliance's requirements for membership, after several months of cooperation following the start of the Russian invasion in February. 

Zelensky initialled the request for membership of the Atlantic Alliance together with Ruslan Stefanyshyn, spokesman of the Supreme Council, and Denys Shmygal, Ukrainian Prime Minister. The procedure took place at the end of the meeting of the National Security and Defence Council in Kiev. 

PHOTO/FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with the pro-Russian leaders of Kherson, Zaporiyia, Donetsk and Lugansk

Zelensky noted that Ukraine upholds the "values of the Euro-Atlantic community" and indicated that Ukraine is a de facto NATO ally and should effectively achieve NATO membership by becoming a full member state of the organisation. The Ukrainian leader cited Sweden and Finland as examples of countries that began the process of joining NATO "without a plan of action". 

The Ukrainian President does not rule out negotiations with Russia, although he made it clear that he sees this possibility as "impossible" with Vladimir Putin as an interlocutor. 

Volodimir Zelensky explained that Ukraine is the game board where the struggle between democracy and tyranny represented by Russia will be decided. In this way, he tried to involve the rest of the Western countries in the common front against the Russian enemy. 

The Ukrainian President also called for security guarantees for Ukraine for the duration of the admission procedure on the basis of the proposals presented by the government in Kiev on 13 September.

For its part, the Ukrainian army has practically surrounded Russian forces in Liman, a town in the east of the Ukrainian territory in the Donetsk region under Russian control since last May. Kiev troops have reportedly been able to break through Russian defences in Ridkodub and Karpivka and have also entered nearby enclaves in Korovil while attacking Drobysheve in the west, according to the Institute for the Study of War. The Russian army also attempted to launch an attack near Kupiansk, the strategic city recaptured by Ukraine in Kharkov, in a procedure of intensified offensives to counter recent major advances by the Ukrainian armed forces.