Thu. Jun 1st, 2023

Kyiv, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Ukraine is formally applying to fast-track a NATO military alliance and Kyiv is ready for talks with Moscow but not yet with President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday.

After Putin held a ceremony in Moscow to declare four partially occupied Ukrainian territories as Russian territory, Ukrainian leaders made comments in a video that appeared to be a forceful rebuttal of the Kremlin.

“We are taking a decisive step by signing Ukraine’s application to accelerate NATO membership,” Zelensky said in a Telegram video.

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The video shows Zelensky announcing the application for membership and then signing a document accompanied by the prime minister and the speaker of parliament.

The announcement is likely to touch a nerve in Moscow, viewing the NATO bloc as a hostile military alliance bent on encroaching on Moscow’s sphere of influence and destroying it.

In his video speech, Zelensky accused Russia of recklessly rewriting history and redrawing borders “using murder, extortion, abuse and lies,” which he said was not allowed in Kyiv.

However, he said, Kyiv remained committed to the idea of ​​coexisting with Russia “on conditions of equality, honesty, dignity and fairness.”

“Obviously, it’s impossible in front of this Russian president. He doesn’t know what dignity and honesty are. So we’re ready to have a dialogue with Russia, but with another Russian president,” Zelensky said.

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Reporting by Max Hunder; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Timothy Estate

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