Ukraine insists it still wants NATO membership after confusion it might drop calls for peace with Russia

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14 February 2022, 18:05

Ukraine has insisted it still wants to be a member of NATO following confusion it might drop its calls in exchange for peace with Russia.

Over the weekend, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK said Kyiv was willing to be "flexible" over its goal to join the military alliance.

Its insistence on wanting to be part of NATO has prompted Russia to amass more than 130,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, with the UK and US warning Moscow could invade the former Soviet republic this week.

'We want to be NATO members'

But Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko told Sky News "we are not looking at that" when asked if Ukraine wants to pull its call for NATO membership to halt an invasion.

Mr Prystaiko said pursuing membership is "enshrined in our constitution and more than 50% of Ukrainians believe we have no other way but to go to NATO" to ensure Ukraine's security.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy also told a joint news conference with the German chancellor: "Of course, we'd like to become members of NATO, it's stipulated in Ukraine's constitution."

He said he thinks reporters "misunderstood" Mr Prystaiko's comments and it was more a question of dealing with the situation now because they do not know when they will become NATO members.

"How long will it take Ukraine to go and reach the end of this path to reach NATO?" he added.

Mr Zelenskiy said some NATO leaders have hinted Ukraine should not talk so much about its ambitions to join NATO but said: "This decision is our decision."

He added that he will not be evacuating his family from Ukraine, saying he and the first lady need to set a patriotic "example" for his citizens.

Russian invasion imminent

Over the weekend, the US warned it had intelligence showing Russia could invade Ukraine on Wednesday, something the Ukrainian ambassador defended, saying the US may have stopped the invasion in its tracks.

On Monday, Boris Johnson warned of a "very, very dangerous and difficult situation" as he said the threat of a Russian invasion leaves the world "on the edge of a precipice".

He said there was "pretty clear" evidence Russia is planning an invasion of its neighbour.

British foreign secretary Liz Truss, who was in Moscow for talks last week, added that the latest information suggests Russia "could invade at any moment and we urge the Kremlin to de-escalate".

Germany steps up support after criticism

Germany has been criticised for refusing to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine or spell out sanctions, or halt the use of a gas pipeline from Russia, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz sought to allay those fears during a two-hour meeting with Mr Zelenskiy on Monday in Kyiv.

During a news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart, Mr Scholz said he will emphasise to Vladimir Putin when he sees him in Moscow this week there will be "heavy economic consequences" if Russia invades.

He announced a further €150 million for Ukraine, on top of the same amount already set aside. He also said Germany, along with Estonia and Italy, has made hospitals available for troops and civilians.

Mr Scholz added that there was "no reasonable justification" for the build-up of troops by Russia as NATO accession talks are not on the agenda at the moment, so it was "strange" Russia would raise it.

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in conflict since 2014, when Ukraine's then-leader, who was pro-Kremlin, was forced to resign by a popular uprising.

Moscow responded by annexing Crimea and backing a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine, where more than 14,000 people have been killed in fighting.


Sky News

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