NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Alliance would continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. He added NATO would never recognize the Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory. "Annexation will not change the position of NATO countries regarding support for Ukraine," he said.
"If Russia stops fighting, there will be no war. If Ukraine stops fighting – Ukraine will cease to exist as an independent state," Stoltenberg said.
However, Stoltenberg emphasized that "NATO is not part of the conflict." He didn't address President Volodymyr Zelensky's statement several hours prior in which the president said Ukraine has applied for NATO membership. Zelensky said Ukraine should count on the NATO fast-track accession.
"De facto, we have already become a NATO ally. We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other. This is the Alliance," Zelensky said. "Today, Ukraine submits an application to make this de jure. (Our accession) would be a formal solidifying of the real state of things we've already achieved."
Stoltenberg said that "countries can apply to join the alliance."
On Sept. 30, Putin declared the annexation of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson oblasts.
Putin also dedicated a considerable amount of time to homophobic remarks, lashing out at the West for promoting LGBTQ+ rights and "hooking people up on drugs," in an apparent attempt to appeal to his conservative base.
In his response, Zelensky said that Ukraine is ready for peace talks with Russia but only with a different Russian president.
for an independent Ukraine