Zelensky acknowledges Ukraine won’t join NATO

Three weeks in to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “acknolwedged” that his country wouldn’t be joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 

According to CNN, the remarks were made Tuesday during a video address made to the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force.

“For years we have been hearing about how the door is supposedly open (to NATO membership) but now we hear that we cannot enter. And it is true, and it must be acknowledged,” he said.

“I am glad that our people are beginning to understand this and rely on themselves and on our partners who assist us.”

Fears that Ukraine would join NATO had been one of the grievances Russian President Vladimir Putin listed when Russia invaded Ukraine. The Russian leader had long dreaded that the country would follow through with its stated hope to join the Western military alliance, originally set up to counter Soviet aggression in Europe.

As the Washington Examiner noted, Russia has demanded that Ukraine add language to their constitution that would reject joining NATO, the European Union or other transnational blocs as a precondition to peace.

Earlier this month, Zelensky told ABC he had “cooled down” on joining the organization.

“The alliance is afraid of controversial things and a confrontation with Russia,” he said.

Zelensky has received over $1 billion in aid since last autumn, however, and has been the chief driver behind military assistance to the beleaguered Eastern European state.

However, a diplomatic conflict between Poland and the United States has scuttled, at least for now, a plan to transfer Russian MiG-29s to Ukraine for air defense.

The Pentagon called the plan “untenable,” given that transferring them through America’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany risked drawing NATO into a wider conflict with Russia.

Zelensky’s acknowledgement that Ukraine wouldn’t be joining NATO was a “reflection of reality,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN.

“I don’t think that’s a concession. I think first of all it’s a reflection of reality that even before this aggression by Russia, Ukraine was not going to get into NATO tomorrow,” Blinken said.

“All the more reason why as we’ve seen when Putin was saying that their concerns about Ukraine centered on its admission to NATO, that was wrong. That was a lie,” he added.

Blinken insisted, however, that America’s support for Ukraine was “extraordinary” and that it would continue “to make sure that Ukraine has the means to defend itself.”