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UKR | Oct 2, 2022

Ukraine formally applies for NATO membership as Russia annexes territory

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Zelenskiy dismisses Moscow territorial claim as a farce

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. (File Photo: Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS)

Ukraine is officially applying for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a Kremlin ceremony that he was annexing four Ukrainian provinces.

NATO, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 member states; 28 European and two North American countries. A defiant Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy made the announcement in a speech filmed outside his presidential office in Kyiv.

Zelenskiy said he was taking this “decisive step” in order to protect “the entire community” of Ukrainians. He promised the application would happen in an “expedited manner” adding, “de facto, we have already made our way to NATO. De facto, we have already proven compatibility with alliance standards. They are real for Ukraine – real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction.

Formal NATO application

The president signed the application form, as did the Speaker of parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, and the prime minister, Denys Shmyhal. However, the Guardian is reporting that NATO is unlikely to accept Ukraine’s imminent entry, while it is in a state of war.

As a NATO member, fellow members would be compelled to actively defend it against Russia – a commitment that goes well beyond the supply of weapons. In his address on Friday, shared on Telegram, Zelenskiy dismissed the ceremony in Moscow as a meaningless “farce”. He declared that no peace talks with Russia would be possible while Putin was president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File Photo: Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via REUTERS)

According to him, “Putin doesn’t know what dignity and honesty is. We are ready for dialogue with Russia but only with a different Russian president”.

Zelenskiy promised that Ukraine’s armed forces would continue to free territory from Russian occupation, regardless of Putin’s insinuation that Moscow might use nuclear weapons to defend land it has seized.

“The whole of Ukraine will be liberated from this enemy,” he told his audience saying Moscow is against “life, the law, humanity and truth”.

Ukrainians say Putin is crazy

Zelenskiy charged that Putin’s willingness to kill and torture in order to expand his “zone of control” was madness. Ukrainian commentators agreed. They dismissed Russia’s president as delusional and said his new “treaty” incorporating four regions of Ukraine into Russia would make no difference to the situation on the ground, where Ukrainian troops are on the brink of securing a major victory.

The Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Honcharenko described Putin as an “insane, inadequate person” and said Russia under his two-decade leadership had become a “constant danger to the world”.  Zelenskiy has made clear that annexation means negotiations with the Kremlin are at an end.

His senior aides pointed to the fact that as Putin was speaking, thousands of his troops faced annihilation in the city of Lyman, in the Donetsk region – an area Moscow says is Russia’s “forever”. The Guardian reports that the Russian army is facing embarrassing military defeat and the possible collapse of its northern front in the Donetsk and Luhansk region.

Unconfirmed video suggested Ukrainian forces had entered the outskirts of Lyman. It showed destroyed Russian vehicles and dead soldiers by the side of the road. The city, which is a strategic railway junction, had been under Moscow’s control since May.

War in Ukraine

About 5,000 Russian fighters were reportedly trapped in the city. They included troops from Russia’s 20th Combined Arms Army, as well as fighters from the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic.

A Ukrainian journalist, Yuriy Butusov, posted drone footage that appeared to show a Russian military column and stolen civilian vehicles trying to break out in the village of Zarichne. They were attempting to escape before darkness set in, he wrote on Facebook, and the route out was completely closed off.

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