Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday announced an “accelerated” bid to join NATO, Axios reports.
The announcement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would annex four regions of Ukraine making up 15% of its total territory.
The annexation followed sham referendums held in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.
Putin vowed to defend the regions as any other part of Russia.
“People have made their choice, an unambiguous choice,” he claimed during a ceremony on Friday.
“I want the Kyiv authorities and their real masters in the West to hear me, so that they remember this. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever,” he said
Zelensky launches NATO bid:
Zelensky took to his Telegram channel to announce that Ukraine would make an expedited bid to join the NATO alliance.
"We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine's application for accelerated accession to NATO," Zelensky wrote.
"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," he said. "We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other. This is the alliance."
No talks with Putin:
Zelensky in a speech also ruled out holding talks with Putin, accusing Russia of “using murder, blackmail, mistreatment, and lies” to rewrite history and redraw borders.
Zelensky said that Kyiv is committed to co-existing with Russia “on equal, honest, dignified and fair conditions.”
"Clearly, with this Russian president (that) is impossible. He does not know what dignity and honesty are. Therefore, we are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia," he said.