- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sat for an exclusive interview with CNN and Reuters on Tuesday.
- The leader pleaded for more international assistance in Ukraine’s fight against Russian forces.
- “…If Ukraine falls, then all these troops will be on the borders of your NATO member countries,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday reignited calls for more international assistance as Russia continues its warpath in Ukraine, warning of dire consequences across the continent should the country fall.
The 44-year-old has refused to evacuate the capital city even as Russian forces continue to advance, delivering video updates and rousing speeches from an undisclosed, heavily guarded location near the city’s center.
The president urged NATO member countries to impose a “no-fly zone” to halt the Russian air force, arguing that the move would be a preventative measure and not an instigating attack that could draw the alliance into the war.
The US and other NATO member countries have repeatedly ruled out imposing a “no-fly zone,” which would require NATO aircraft to patrol the skies, authorized to shoot down any air intruders who refuse to withdraw. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that imposing the “no-fly zone” would be equivalent to declaring war on Russia.
“This is not about dragging NATO countries into war. The truth is everyone has long since been dragged into war and definitely not by Ukraine, but by Russia — a large-scale war is going on,” Zelensky told Reuters.
The Ukrainian president also asked NATO to expedite the country’s bid to join the alliance, saying Ukraine would demand security promises from Western countries if NATO refuses the country membership in the alliance. Ukraine’s pursuit of NATO membership has been cited as a key factor in Russia’s invasion.
“Our partners, if they are not ready to take Ukraine into NATO … because Russia does not want Ukraine to be in NATO, should work out common security guarantees for Ukraine,” Zelensky told the outlets.
“This means that we have our territorial integrity, that our borders are protected, we have special relations with all our neighbors, we are completely safe, and the guarantors that give us security, they guarantee this legally,” he added.
In the interviews, Zelensky predicted troubles ahead for neighboring NATO countries should Russia ultimately succeed in seizing Ukraine. In recent speeches, the president has worked to link the short-term security of Ukraine to the long-term geopolitical health of the West.
“It is very important to know that if Ukraine falls, then all these [Russian] troops will be on the borders of your NATO member countries,” Zelensky said. “And you will be facing the same question there.”