President Volodymyr Zelensky called on US President Joe Biden to invite Ukraine into NATO “now” – even if membership does not come until after the war.
Speaking in English to CNN, Zelensky said that Biden was “the decision maker” about whether Ukraine would be in NATO or not.
“He supports our future in NATO,” but an invitation now would be a huge motivator for Ukrainian soldiers, Zelensky said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett.
Ukraine’s aspiration to join is enshrined in its constitution and its relationship with NATO dates back to the early 1990s, according to the alliance. NATO is due to hold a summit in Lithuania on July 11 and 12 where leaders are expected to discuss Ukraine's membership.
“Now,” Zelensky said in response to a question about why not wait for an invitation. “It’s very important.”
“It’s so important to feel that you are really being around allies in the future," he added.
Zelensky added that he understood that Ukraine would “never be in NATO before war finishes.”
NATO stipulates that the settlement of territorial disputes is “a factor in determining whether to invite a state to join the Alliance.”
“We understand everything,” Zelensky said.” But this signal is really very important. And depends on Biden’s decision.”
Erin Burnett’s full interview with President Zelensky airs Wednesday at 7 pm ET.