'a reflection of reality'
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said it is "clear that Ukraine is not a member of NATO," a fact that "must be acknowledged."
Zelensky made his remarks while virtually addressing leaders of the U.K.-led Joint Expeditionary Force initiative. "For years we have been hearing about how the door is supposedly open [to NATO membership], but now we hear that we cannot enter," Zelensky said, adding that he is "glad that our people are beginning to understand this and rely on themselves and on our partners who assist us."
Leading up to the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that Ukraine be permanently barred from joining NATO, saying the country's membership would threaten Russia's security.
Ukraine is a NATO partner, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday that Zelensky's NATO comment was not "a concession. I think first of all it's a reflection of reality that even before this aggression by Russia, Ukraine was not going to get into NATO tomorrow. All the more reason why as we've seen when Putin was saying that their concerns about Ukraine centered on its admission to NATO, that was wrong. That was a lie." Putin has shown so far that the invasion of Ukraine is about "denying Ukraine its independent existence," Blinken added.