Washington, United States: President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is no longer pressing for NATO membership for Ukraine, a delicate issue that was one of Russia’s stated reasons for invading its pro-Western neighbor.
In another apparent nod aimed at placating Moscow, Zelensky said he is open to “compromise” on the status of two breakaway pro-Russian territories that President Vladimir Putin recognized as independent just before unleashing the invasion on February 24.
“The alliance is afraid of controversial things, and confrontation with Russia,” the president added.
Russia has said it does not want neighboring Ukraine to join NATO, the transatlantic alliance created at the start of the Cold War to protect Europe from the Soviet Union.
In more recent years the alliance has expanded further and further east to take in former Soviet bloc countries, infuriating the Kremlin.
Russia sees NATO enlargement as a threat, as it does the military posture of these new Western allies on its doorstep.
Putin now wants Ukraine, too, to recognize them as sovereign and independent.
When ABC asked him about this Russian demand, Zelensky said he was open to dialogue.
“I’m talking about security guarantees,” he said.
“What is important to me is how the people in those territories are going to live who want to be part of Ukraine, who in Ukraine will say that they want to have them in,” Zelensky said.
“So the question is more difficult than simply acknowledging them,” the president said.
© Agence France-Presse
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