BERLIN (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy played down the chances of his country joining NATO in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper on Thursday.
With Russia intent on stopping its membership, Ukraine’s long-term ambition to join the military alliance has caused a deep crisis in East-West relations and frantic diplomatic efforts are underway to prevent military conflict.
Zelenskiy told Bild that although Ukraine had for years wanted to join NATO, the process was not advancing.
“Not only Russia is against (our) membership. Some individual NATO members support Moscow’s position. That is an open secret,” he said.
He did not name those countries, saying he still hoped for their support.
“We do not have it easy with these neighbours and don’t want risks or diplomatic disputes,” he said, adding that Ukrainians themselves should decide on possible membership but that there was no point in holding a referendum yet.
“The road to NATO and the EU is a very long one,” he told Bild, urging alliance members to support Ukraine.
(Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Miranda Murray)