Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky at a conference in Brussels, Belgium, October 6, 2020
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky called for an “honest” response to his country’s attempts to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
Zelensky spoke amid reports of shelling in Eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have urged residents to evacuate ahead of potential fighting. Russia has stationed between 169,000-190,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders ahead of a potential invasion, according to the U.S.
Zelensky on Saturday lamented that Ukraine’s bid to join the E.U. has been stalled for several years.
“Why do we avoid this question? Doesn’t Ukraine deserve direct, honest answers?” Zelensky said. “This also applies to NATO. We are told the door is open. But for now, no outsiders are allowed in.”
Zelensky added, “If not all members are willing to see us, or all members do not want to see us there, be honest about it. Open doors are good, but we need open answers.”
The Ukrainian president also criticized predictions and reports of an impending Russian invasion, saying reports were causing unnecessary panic.
“Just putting ourselves in coffins and waiting for foreign soldiers to come in is not something we are prepared to do,” Zelensky said. “We cannot say on a daily basis that war will happen tomorrow.”
Zelensky also met with Vice President Kamala Harris at the conference, and made a request for additional military aid.
Zelensky’s speech came less than a day after President Biden said he was “convinced” Russian president Vladimir Putin had decided to invade Ukraine.
“We have reason to believe the Russian forces are planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week—in the coming days,” Biden said at a White House press conference. “We believe they will target Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people.”
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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is also a violist, and has served in the Israeli Defense Forces.