Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed NATO for holding a “weak” and “confused” summit Friday, where leaders refused to impose a no-fly zone over the war-torn country.
Zelensky had called for the airspace restriction to slow Russia’s invasion of his country, but NATO leaders rejected the request to avoid getting directly involved in the military conflict and instead pledged more economic sanctions.
The Ukraine president said Friday in a video message filmed in an undisclosed location that NATO’s failure to institute the no-fly zone was a greenlight for more bombing by Moscow — and he told NATO leaders that future deaths from the invasion would lie partly on their shoulders.
“You had to think about people, about humanity itself, and what did you think about at that summit?” he said. “All the people who will die starting from this day will also die because of you. Because of your weakness. Because of your disunity.
“Knowing that new strikes and casualties are inevitable, NATO deliberately decided NOT to close the sky over Ukraine.
“We believe that NATO countries themselves have created a narrative that the closure of the sky over Ukraine would provoke Russia’s direct aggression against NATO,” Zelensky said. “This is self-hypnosis. Of those who are weak, under-confident … although they may have weapons many times more powerful than ours.”
Still, he thanked “our country’s friends in NATO … who help our state no matter what.”
NATO Secretary-Gen. Jens Stoltenberg had said, “We are not part of this conflict” after the summit in Brussels earlier in the day.
“We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating and would cause even more human suffering,” Stoltenberg said.
But Zelensky, an actor-turned-politician who has dodged at least three assassination attempts in the past week, remained defiant in his speech in the face of growing Russian aggression as the invasion reached its ninth day.
“The invaders, they could turn off our television to Ukrainians, our connection,” he said. “They thought they could take away products, shut off the electricity. They thought it would force Ukrainians to submit. But even if you deprive of us oxygen, we will breathe deeply to say, ‘Get off our land.’”
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