Ukraine announces bid to join NATO after Russia annexes four Ukrainian regions
Ukraine has submitted an official application to join NATO, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said after Moscow annexed four Ukrainian regions earlier on Friday.
"We are de facto allies already," Zelenskyy said. "De facto, we have already proven compatibility with Alliance standards."
"Ukraine is applying to confirm it de jure by an expedited procedure," he stated.
NATO was not immediately able to respond to questions about what Ukraine's “accelerated" application to join the alliance would mean.
Ukraine is already considered an “aspirant country” for membership in the world’s biggest security alliance, along with Georgia. All 30 NATO allies would have to agree for the country to join.
NATO is wary of allowing any country to join when its borders and territory are not clearly defined.
NATO’s Article 5 defence clause – the pledge that all allies must come to the aid of any ally whose territory is under threat – would be compromised in the case of Ukraine, as it is unclear what parts of the country would join.
Earlier this year, Ukraine has been granted membership candidate status by the European Union, but member countries have warned that it would take several years for the conflict-torn country to be able to join.
'History has called us to the battlefield,' Putin says in a meandering speech
Zelenskyy's statement came right after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties to annex parts of Ukraine in defiance of international law, vowing to protect the newly incorporated regions by “all available means".
In a Kremlin ceremony at the ornate St. George's Hall to herald the annexation of the occupied parts of Ukraine, Putin accused the West of fueling the hostilities as part of what he said is a plan to turn Russia into a “colony” and a “crowds of slaves”.