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Zelensky: Ukraine no longer insists on NATO Alliance

Zelensky: Ukraine no longer insists on NATO Alliance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is no longer pressing for NATO membership for Ukraine after learning the defence alliance was worried about a confrontation with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited Ukraine's pursuit of NATO membership as a justification for his decision to invade Ukraine.

"I have kept my silence on this issue for a long time after we understood that NATO was not ready to accept Ukraine," Zelensky said in an interview broadcast on ABC News. 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."

Zelensky has also said he is open to "compromise" on the status of two breakaway pro-Russian territories that President Vladimir Putin recognised as independent just before unleashing the invasion on February 24. Shortly before he shocked the world by ordering the invasion of Ukraine, Putin recognised as independent two separatist pro-Russian "republics" in eastern Ukraine -- Donetsk and Lugansk -- that have been at war with Kyiv since 2014. Putin now wants Ukraine, too, to recognise them as sovereign and independent.

He said these two regions "had not been recognised by anyone but Russia, these pseudo republics. But we can discuss and find the compromise on how these territories will live on."

"What is important to me is how the people in those territories are going to live who want to be part of Ukraine, who in Ukraine will say that they want to have them in," Zelensky said.

In 2008, Ukraine applied to begin a NATO Membership Action Plan, and the alliance welcomed Ukraine's bid, pledging that the country would eventually become a member while declining to offer a timeline.