President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hopes that in the issue of Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic prospects, NATO member states will be guided by the position and choice of the Ukrainian people, without giving in to threats and any "red lines" of other states. Volodymyr Zelenskyy told this to the media following the negotiations with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.
"We have held meaningful consultations with Mr. Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance on ways to strengthen cooperation between Ukraine and NATO, taking into account the current very dangerous challenges. First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to NATO and personally to Mr. Stoltenberg for his continued support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country within internationally recognized borders," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The President stated that the situation in the temporarily occupied Crimea, Donbas, around the Ukrainian borders and in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov is a group of hybrid elements that the Russian side uses to blackmail and put pressure on the Ukrainian state and democracy. Also, in order to destabilize the situation in the region, a "migrant crisis" and an energy crisis are being artificially created, disinformation is being spread, and cyberattacks are being carried out.
"These are elements of the overall scenario of destabilizing the security situation in the region, Ukraine and Europe as a whole. Their goal is to destabilize the situation on the borders with NATO, to create a narrative in societies about the weakness of allies, to block Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration," the President said.
At the same time, he stressed that Ukraine's membership in NATO is a personal choice of the Ukrainian people.
"Our Euro-Atlantic course remains the same. Support for this course keeps growing in Ukrainian society," the Head of State stressed.
Answering journalists' questions, Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that support for NATO membership in Ukraine had remained at 50% for many years, but had risen significantly since the 2014 war and Russia's occupation of the Crimean peninsula.
"I believe that Russia has pushed Ukraine into NATO. I believe that today Russia is “paving” Ukraine’s difficult way to NATO," the President said.
The President expressed gratitude for the fact that in the Brussels Communiqué (June 2021) the Allies stated their firm support for Ukraine's right to determine its own future and foreign policy without outside interference.
"I am very grateful for the clear signal that the issue of Ukraine's membership in NATO is a matter of relations between Ukraine and the Alliance. And it certainly should not be the choice of any state in any part of the world. I sincerely hope that the Allies will continue to be guided by these positions without giving in to threats and any "red lines" drawn by other parties," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The President of Ukraine also reminded that next year marks 25 years since the conclusion of the Charter on a Special Partnership between Ukraine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization signed in Madrid. In this context, Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the NATO summit, which will also take place in Madrid in June 2022, a "window of opportunity".
For his part, Jens Stoltenberg stressed that Russia must return to diplomacy and de-escalation of the situation, as well as respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
"The decision on whether Ukraine can join NATO will be made only by Ukraine and the thirty members of the Alliance," said the NATO Secretary General.