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Zelensky: NATO can't protect Europe without Ukraine joining the alliance
President Volodymyr Zelensky said on April 8 that NATO could only guarantee the protection of Europe when Ukraine officially joins the 31-member alliance.
"Only together with Ukraine will the alliance guarantee real protection for Europe from any encroachment on the life of peoples — on existing borders and on the international order based on rules," Zelensky said in his evening address. "But it’s hard to imagine strength without Ukraine."
Zelensky thanked Lithuania, whose parliament on April 6 unanimously approved a resolution proposing to formally invite Ukraine to join NATO at the upcoming Vilnius summit in July, for the "understanding of the current security situation in Europe."
Ukraine applied for a fast-track NATO accession just as Russia made illegal annexation claims of four Ukrainian regions in September.
Responding to the Kyiv Independent, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference on April 3 that "Ukraine will become a member of the alliance," but it was too early to say when.
Despite the NATO leader's reassurance that Ukraine is set to join the alliance one day, the prospects of membership are low until Russia's war against Ukraine comes to an end.
Another Baltic nation, Estonia, has also backed Ukraine's NATO membership bid.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, whose country borders Russia, said in an interview with the Kyiv Independent that "NATO is the only consistent security guarantee to Ukraine, and also for Europe to evade a new war of aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation."