MOSCOW (AA) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday announced application for NATO membership under accelerated procedure, shortly after Russia's annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
It was only minutes after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed documents on the establishment of four new regions in Russia that Zelenskyy said "de facto Ukraine made its way" to the alliance.
"De facto, we have already made our way to NATO. De facto, we have already proven our compatibility with the Alliance's standards. They are real for Ukraine – real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our cooperation.
"We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other. This is the Alliance," the Ukrainian leader said on Telegram.
"De facto. Today, Ukraine is submitting an application to do this de jure. According to a procedure that will fit our goal to protect our entire community. In an expedited manner. We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine's application for accelerated membership in NATO," he wrote.
Zelenskyy added that there will be no peace talks with Russia as long as Vladimir Putin serves as its president.
"Donbas is and will be Ukrainian. This is our land, our people. We will never give ours to the occupiers," he said.
Ukraine's separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and Russian-controlled parts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson held referendums on joining Russia on Sept. 23-27.
Around 98% of voters chose to join Russia, Moscow claimed, but the results were highly disputed and dismissed by Ukraine and its Western allies.
The polls have been widely condemned by the international community, with European nations and the US calling them "sham," and saying they are a violation of international law.