In an address on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his call to close Ukrainian airspace after a night of air alarms heard "almost all over" the country.
"Each of the more than 800 Russian missiles that have hit our country is an answer to a long-standing question about NATO — whether the doors of the alliance are really open for Ukraine," Zelensky said while speaking from his office Tuesday afternoon. "If they were open, if it was honest, we would not have to convince the alliance for 20 days to close the skies over Ukraine, to close from the death being brought by the Russian Air Force. But ...they don't hear or don't want to hear us yet."
He went on to call out NATO's Article 5, the principle of collective defense, "weak" as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.
"Some states of alliance have intimidated themselves, saying that they can't answer. That they cannot collide with Russian missiles and planes in the Ukrainian sky. Because this, they say, will lead to escalation, will lead to the Third World War. … And what will they say if Russia goes further to Europe, attacking other countries? I am sure the same thing they say to Ukraine. Article 5 of the NATO treaty has never been as weak as it is now. This is just our opinion," he said.
Some background: Article 5 is the principle that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members. It's been a cornerstone of the 30-member alliance since it was founded in 1949 as a counterweight to the Soviet Union.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that there will be an extraordinary summit on March 24 in Brussels to “address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, our strong support for Ukraine, and further strengthening NATO’s deterrence & defense.” US President Joe Biden announced he will travel to Brussels for the meeting.
Zelensky added that evacuation corridors from the cities of Sumy, Trostyanets, Lebedyn, Shostka and Konotop were "partially opened today," but Russian forces "did not stop the shelling and disrupted the work of humanitarian corridors in the Kyiv region."