Ukraine President Fights On Despite Compromise On NATO
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
LONDON/KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave mixed messages Tuesday, telling British legislators his nation would fight against Russia after admitting he no longer seeks membership of the NATO military alliance.
Looking just a young man in a khaki T-shirt, overwhelmed to find himself in this position, he reminded democratic representatives of a country far away from British history.
In an unprecedented address to British Parliamentarians in the House of Commons, he reminded them of Britain’s struggle against Nazi -Germany in World War Two.
Zelensky, who has Jewish roots, told the teary-eyed lawmakers via a video link his nation would continue to defend itself in the way Britain did against Nazi Germany. Ukraine is fighting, “Just in the same way you didn’t want to lose your country when Nazis started to fight your country, you had to fight,” he stressed.
He referenced Britain’s World War Two-era Prime Minister Winston Churchill, saying, “we will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.”
And referring to famous English playwright William Shakespeare, he laid out the real question for Ukraine: “to be or not to be?”
LONGING FOR FREEDOM
Ukraine, he stressed, had decided “to be free.”
Yet, his emotionally-charged speech came after he separately told reporters that he is no longer pressing for NATO membership for Ukraine. That delicate issue was one of Russia’s stated reasons for invading its pro-Western neighbor.
Zelensky also said he is open to “compromise” on two breakaway pro-Russian territories that President Vladimir Putin declared independent just before the February 24 full-scale invasion.
“I cooled down regarding this question a long time ago after we understood that … NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine,” Zelensky said, said ABC News television. “The alliance is afraid of controversial things and confrontation with Russia,” the president added.
Referring to NATO membership, Zelensky said through an interpreter that he does not want to be president of a “country which is begging something on its knees.”
Asked about eastern Ukraine, where separatists-ruled Donetsk and Luhansk have been at war with Kyiv since 2014, he suggested he may accept them as separate areas. “No one has recognized them but Russia, these pseudo republics. But we can discuss and find the compromise on how these territories will live on,” Zekensky said.
Putin wants Ukraine to recognize them as sovereign and independent as part of his list of security demands to end the invasion.
NATION TO COMPROMISE?
Zelensky’s comments seemed an effort to show a nation that, while willing to compromise on perhaps painful policy differences, is also ready to fight for its very existence. He has refused to leave Ukraine despite a reported U.S. and British offer to be evacuated.
Conflicting scorecards are coming from the battlefields where both sides appear to have losses in Europe’s bloodiest conflict since World War Two.
Yet friends and foes seem to agree that it has taken Russia’s estimated 200,000 troops involved in the invasion longer than expected to overrun Ukraine.
People faced another night of heavy bombardment in shelters and bunkers where in some cases, even children were born. Mothers are painfully aware their infants may not survive the bitter cold outside or ongoing attacks.
Kyiv, the capital, was preparing for an imminent massive assault despite Ukrainian forces killing several Russian generals and other senior officers, and many other troops.
Desperate residents have been leaving the Ukrainian cities of Irpin, near Kyiv, and Sumy via evacuation routes, though several were killed along the way.
MILLIONS ARE FLEEING
The United Nations says two million refugees have now fled since Russia invaded the nation.
While the West has refused to answer Zekensky’s call for enforcing a no-fly zone, it did increase sanctions to punish Russia over its military actions.
Britain was the latest to announce it would phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022.
U.S. President Joe Biden already confirmed a complete American ban on Russian oil, gas, and coal imports in a move that he said was designed to deal a “powerful blow” to Putin.
The European Union also reduced the continent’s reliance on Russian gas.
And fast-food-chain McDonald’s, coffee powerhouse Starbucks and beverages company Coca-Cola became the latest Western forks to pause their work in Russia.
That was further impacting the quality of life of ordinary Russians. They already faced financial difficulties after Russian banks were cut off from the global SWIFT payment system and payment giants Visa and MasterCard suspended operations in Russia.
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