NATO rebuffs Zelensky accession request, only to send arms
The NATO alliance warns Russia of 'severe consequences' if it launched a nuclear attack against Ukraine as the latter vows retaliation.
On Friday, NATO condemned the recent incorporation of four former Ukrainian regions and warned Russia of "severe consequences" in the event of what he speculated to be its future usage of nuclear weapons against Kiev.
"This land grab is illegal and illegitimate. NATO allies do not and will not recognize any of this territory as part of Russia," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the accession of the former Ukrainian territories liberated by the Russian, as well as the LPR and DPR forces, at a grand ceremony in the Kremlin, in a move completely rejected by the West and UN.
In response to Volodymyr Zelensky's announcement that an application for accelerated membership in the alliance was being proposed, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged the bloc's "unchanged" stance on each country's right to choose its own path and on the "open door" policy, but he emphasized that NATO would focus its efforts on aiding Kiev in self-defense.
Stoltenberg stressed that NATO would continue supporting Kiev with an aim to "liberate" the Moscow-held regions as Ukraine pledges a retaliation.
As for Russia, it considers the incorporated territories now as a part of the country and would use its full arsenal to protect it.
Stoltenberg said the alliance had not seen any "changes in nuclear posture" of Russia after Putin's threats.
"We are vigilant, we are sharing information, and we have conveyed very clearly to Russia that there will be severe consequences if they use nuclear forces against Ukraine," Stoltenberg said.
NATO did not take part in the war in Ukraine as it feared unleashing a confrontation with Russia that could spiral into nuclear war. Instead, the NATO allies have sent billions of dollars worth of weapons to Kiev.
Following President Putin's declaration, Ukraine declared it was formally applying to join NATO.
NATO chief remained non-committal on the bid, saying, "Our focus now is on providing immediate support to Ukraine to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian brutal invasion."
Despite Kiev's application, few prospects of Ukraine joining NATO in the foreseeable future appear while it is in conflict with its neighbor.
Membership in the alliance would mean Kiev was covered by NATO's Article 5 mutual defense clause which means an attack on one of the members is an attack on all.
Stoltenberg also touched on the Nord Stream leaks running from Russia to Europe, saying these are "attacks" and calling for an international probe to assess the damage caused to the pipelines.