BRUSSELS — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday made another urgent plea for aid to President Biden and members of the NATO alliance, telling them in a closed-door session that his country was under siege, trapped “in the ‘grey zone’ between the West and Russia,” said a transcript of his comments released by the Ukrainian government.
Mr Zelensky spoke via video link from the Ukrainian capital Kiev as alliance members gathered here for the first of three consecutive summits designed to strengthen global unity of opposition to Russia’s month-long invasion of the country.
He argued that NATO should defend Ukraine, even if his country is not a formal member of the defensive alliance created after World War II.
“Yes, we are not in the alliance. And I am not making these claims. But Ukrainians never thought that the alliance and its allies were different,” he said. He said he understood the position, often expressed by Mr. Biden, that no US troops would be sent to Ukraine to fight directly with the Russians.
“I’m sure you already understand that Russia has no intention of stopping in Ukraine,” he said. “It doesn’t plan to and it won’t. It wants to go further.”
A senior US administration official who watched the speech described Mr Zelensky’s comments as “eloquent” and noted that Ukraine’s president has not called for a no-fly zone or entry into the NATO alliance.
But Mr Zelensky did refer to his previous no-fly requests and, according to the transcript, didn’t mince words in his comments.
“On Feb. 24, I addressed you with a perfectly clear, logical request to help shut down our skies,” he said, referring to previous requests for the Allies to impose a no-fly zone over his country to clear Russian planes. to hold. “In any format. Protect our people from Russian bombs and missiles. We have not heard a clear answer.”
“And you’re seeing the consequences today,” he added moments later. “How many people were killed, how many peaceful cities were destroyed?”
Mr Zelensky has become increasingly sharp in his criticism of the reluctance of the United States and other countries as Russian forces have destroyed many Ukrainian cities, especially in the south.
On Thursday, he criticized the allies for failing to provide fighter jets that Ukraine could use to defend itself against the airstrikes. The White House and Pentagon have said such aid would not be particularly effective and could be used by Russia as a pretext to lure the United States into a more direct conflict.
But Mr. Zelensky brushed aside such concerns.
“Ukraine has asked for your planes. So that we don’t lose so many people. And you have thousands of fighter jets! But we haven’t gotten one yet,” he said. “To save people and our cities, Ukraine needs military aid – without restrictions.”
The senior official of the Biden administration said that after Mr Zelensky’s comments, NATO members entered into a discussion about the possibility of supplying anti-ship missile systems to Ukraine.
But that may take a while, and Mr. Zelensky concluded his comments with a plea for immediate action.
“NATO has yet to show what the alliance can do to save people,” he told leaders. “To show that this really is the most powerful defense union in the world. And the world waits. And Ukraine is waiting very much. Waiting for real actions. Real security guarantees. Of those whose word is trustworthy. And whose actions can keep the peace.”