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In a speech delivered early Friday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed the West for doing nothing but “watching from afar,” dismissed sanctions as “not enough,” told his people that their fate now rests in their hands and vowed to stay until the very end, which he suspects will be his eventual assassination.
The remarks were made hours after U.S. President Joe Biden announced a spate of slow-acting economic sanctions that he admitted may take a month or longer to engender any tangible consequences for the Russians.
The remarks also came hours after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said “we do not have any plans [to deploy] NATO troops to Ukraine” and that military force will only be activated if Russia attacks a NATO ally.
Zelensky seemed displeased by both announcements.
“This morning we are defending our state alone, as we did yesterday. The world’s most powerful forces are watching from afar. Did yesterday’s sanctions convince Russia? We hear in our sky and see on our earth that this is not enough. Foreign troops are still trying to become more active in our territory,” he said in his Friday speech.
“Only the solidarity and determination of Ukrainians can preserve our freedom and protect the state. The army, border guards, the National Guard, the police, intelligence, the Territorial Defense Forces. … The fate of Ukraine depends only on Ukrainians. No one but ourselves will control our lives.”
Zelenskiy speaking this morning – talking of “terrible explosions in the morning sky over Kyiv” which brings back memories of the assault on the city in 1941 pic.twitter.com/dIJY8wHh9V
— Aggi (@aggichristiane) February 25, 2022
He added that despite “fake” news about him having fled, he remains put in the nation’s capital of Kyiv, and his family likewise remains put somewhere in Ukraine, the reason being that they’re “not traitors.”
“I stay in the capital, I stay with my people. During the day, I held dozens of international talks, directly managed our country. And I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine. My children are also in Ukraine. My family is not traitors. They are the citizens of Ukraine,” he said.
And they remain proud citizens, he continued, despite reports that the Russians are looking to “destroy” him and his family.
“According to our information, the enemy marked me as the number one target. My family is the number two target. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the Head of State,” he claimed.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy: “According to our information, the enemy has marked me as target number one, my family as target number two.” pic.twitter.com/GuGPA9qXWs
— The Recount (@therecount) February 25, 2022
He then pivoted back to the original topic of other nations, complaining that though they’ve said they support Ukraine, their actions haven’t matched their rhetoric.
“No matter how many conversations I had with the leaders of different countries today, I heard a few things. The first is that we are supported. And I am grateful to each state that helps Ukraine concretely, not just in words,” he said.
“But there is another – we are left alone in defense of our state. Who is ready to fight with us? Honestly – I do not see such. Who is ready to guarantee Ukraine’s accession to NATO? Honestly, everyone is afraid.”
He added that he’d asked all 27 “leaders of Europe whether Ukraine will be in NATO,” but they were all too “afraid” to “answer.”
‘I have asked 27 European leaders whether Ukraine will be in NATO …. Everyone is afraid, no one answers,’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a late night speech https://t.co/Tco566qKpI pic.twitter.com/LZFRh6WM7f
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 25, 2022
Ukraine has for years sought entrance into NATO but been rejected out of the fear that its entrance into the alliance would trigger a violent response from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who for years has been complaining about NATO’s encroachment into territories/nations adjacent to Russia.
And indeed, to hear Putin tell it, Russia’s current aggression toward Ukraine stems entirely from NATO’s refusal to abide by his demands.
“During a video address days before he announced a military operation in Ukraine, Putin linked the current crisis directly to Russia’s NATO demands, which include a guarantee that NATO stop expanding to the East and pull back its infrastructure from Eastern European countries that joined after the Cold War. He accused the U.S. and NATO of ignoring Russia’s demands and blamed the West for the current crisis in Ukraine,” according to ABC News.
A number of American commentators on both the left and the right have argued that Putin has a valid point, and that the blame for the current crisis, therefore, rests at least partly with the West/NATO for not respecting Russia’s demands:
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 24, 2022
For this, said commentators have been labeled “traitors,” among other things:
The amount of Americans who start screaming “traitor!!” at anyone who even slightly calls out NATO expansion is honestly staggering.
— Richard Medhurst (@richimedhurst) February 24, 2022
My unsolicited suggestion is to prepare for an ideological climate in which any critique of the NATO position going forward is met with immediate accusations of treason.
— Aren R. LeBrun (@proustmalone) February 24, 2022
But the question remains who exactly are they traitors to? Ukraine is neither a part of the United States nor even a part of NATO.
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