Even if the West cannot currently grant Kyiv membership in NATO, it must still ensure that the country is "absolutely safe," emphasized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"If our partners are not ready to admit Ukraine into NATO... because Russia does not want Ukraine to enter NATO, they should find common security guarantees for Ukraine," Zelenskyy told Reuters and Tuesday amid an ongoing invasion CNN from Moscow.
These "security guarantees" are necessary to ensure that "our territorial integrity is protected, that our borders are protected, that we have privileged relationships with all our neighbors, that we are absolutely safe," he specified.
According to Zelenskyy, the countries that “become the guarantors that give us security” should “legally” give Kyiv such assurances.
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Speaking of what Reuters described as a "heavily guarded government building" in the country's capital, the Ukrainian leader also praised the West for sending arms to Kyiv and imposing fresh sanctions on Moscow.
But he urged the United States and its allies to do more, including imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Zelenskyi reiterated calls for closing airspace over his country, although he acknowledged that US President Joe Biden had previously told him that now is not the time to introduce such a measure.
"It's not about dragging NATO countries into the war. The truth is that everyone has been drawn into the war for a long time, and certainly not by Ukraine, but by Russia,” he claimed.
Last year Moscow also asked Washington to issue written assurances that NATO would not expand into Ukraine and Georgia - a prospect Moscow sees as a major threat. He also called on the US-led military bloc to limit its provocative military activities near Russia's borders. But the United States refused to meet Russia's demands.
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Russian troops were deployed to Ukraine last week as part of a special operation to demilitarize and "denazify" the Kiev government in response to "genocide" in the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Moscow insisted that it did not target civilians and only hit Ukrainian military installations. Kyiv accused Moscow of conducting an unprovoked invasion.