Zelenskyy says ‘a war wouldn’t have started’ if Ukraine were a NATO member

  • Zelenskyy said that if Ukraine had been in NATO, Russia would not have attacked the country.
  • During a CNN interview, the Ukrainian president pleaded for security guarantees for his country.
  • Zelenskyy reiterated that he has been “ready for negotiations” with Putin for the past two years.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday contended that if his country had been a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, then Russia’s aggressive invasion would not have occurred.

Zelenskyy — who in recent weeks has called for admittance into the intergovernmental military alliance, which includes 28 European countries, the United States, and Canada — said that his people are continuing to suffer because of the instability caused by the conflict.

“If we were a NATO member, a war wouldn’t have started. I’d like to receive security guarantees for my country, for my people,” he told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for the aid that NATO members have provided Ukraine so far, but appealed for a more lasting relationship.

“If NATO members are ready to see us in the alliance, then do it immediately because people are dying on a daily basis,” he urged.

He continued: “But if you are not ready to preserve the lives of our people, if you just want to see us straddle two worlds, if you want to see us in this dubious position where we don’t understand whether you can accept us or not — you cannot place us in this situation, you cannot force us to be in this limbo.”

Zelenskyy then reiterated that any indecision is not an option for his country, where 6.5 million people have so far been displaced throughout Ukraine, with another 3.2 million citizens having departing the country, according to the United Nations migration agency.

“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 said. “The response was very clear, you’re not going to be a NATO member, but publicly, the doors will remain open.”

Zelenskyy also said that he has been ready to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin for some time, and stressed that an agreement was critical in ending the violence brought on by the invasion.

“I’m ready for negotiations with him,” he told CNN. “I was ready for the last two years. And I think that without negotiations we cannot end this war.”

He emphasized: “I think that we have to use any format, any chance in order to have a possibility of negotiating, possibility of talking to Putin. But if these attempts fail, that would mean that this is a third World War.”

Putin has opposed Ukraine’s past efforts to become part of NATO, with the leader seeing its membership as a threat to Russia.

While Ukraine was not being formally vetted to join NATO when Russia launched its recent invasion the country, the country has sustained a diplomatic partnership with the alliance.