Zelensky Hails ‘Significant Security Victory’ as NATO Says Ukraine an ‘Equal’

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky gives a press conference during the NATO Summi
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NATO is “more united than ever”, Ukraine is on a path to membership, and is now treated as an equal to NATO, it is said as the annual meeting of the alliance concludes in Vilnius.

In a brief speech which will probably be best remembered for his accidentally misnaming President Zelensky as “Vladimir” — the forename of the sworn enemy of the Ukrainian people, Russian President Putin — President Biden said the alliance had now created “a path to NATO membership” for Ukraine. Speaking of his day’s meetings, Biden said in his final speech in Vilnius before returning to the U.S. that:

We just concluded the first meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, and all our allies agreed Ukraine’s future lies in NATO… we’re gonna provide security to Ukraine for its needs and against any aggression that may occur… this starts a process by which each of our nations, and any other nation that wishes to participate will negotiate long term bilateral security agreements with Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine is now closer to NATO membership than ever before, and that “Today we meet as equals; I look forward to the day we meet as Allies.” The long-serving alliance boss said NATO is “more united than ever”, presumably papering over some cracks on exactly how quickly Ukraine is to be admitted, a matter on which some members appear to disagree.

President Zelensky spoke after Biden, and amid thanks given to NATO members for their support — remarks that may have been triggered by a warning from the UK defence secretary, a staunch supporter of Ukraine, that some Western supporters may be finding the country’s urgent attitude grating — said he was taking some a “significant security victory”.

Zelensky said that the outcomes of the summit are “very much needed and a meaningful success” for his country, calling the support “unprecedented”. His attitude is one at odds with that at the beginning of the week, where he appeared on the verge of anger for NATO not allowing him to join the alliance sooner.

Taking to social media, Zelensky said on Monday he would demand “respect” from NATO members and that his country not being put on an immediate pathway to membership was “unprecedented and absurd”, accusing the alliance of weakness. “I will openly discuss this at the summit”, he said, in an apparent threat.

As the summit ended, Zelensky spoke to journalists and answered questions. Speaking about the end of the war, the Ukrainian President rejected a Korea-style solution where the war would end with a truce, saying there must be accountability for the Russians, and that all Ukrainian land must be returned. A “frozen conflict is not a victory”, he said, and said even a village with a population of “one old man” would need to be taken back.



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