British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is “no way Ukraine is going to join NATO anytime soon” as Ukraine’s leader said peace talks with Russia had taken a “realistic turn.”
The prime minister, who is visiting the Gulf as he tries to wean the West off Russian energy, said he understood the “reality of the position” expressed by Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, during an address to London.
The Kiev war leader, in a video call to Johnson and representatives from Baltic and northern European countries gathered on Tuesday, expressed his frustration that Ukraine had not been allowed to join NATO.
“This is the truth and we have simply to accept it as it is,” he said.
Johnson, speaking to broadcasters at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, said “I talked to Volodymyr Zelensky again yesterday and of course I understand what he is saying about NATO and the reality of the position.
“And everybody has always said and we’ve made it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin, that there is no way Ukraine is going to join NATO any time soon.”
Johnson said decisions about the future of the country had to be for the Ukrainian people and their elected leader to make, as he vowed Britain would continue to “back” Zelensky.
“And the most important thing is that Putin’s aggression, his absolutely barbaric attacks on Ukraine should stop and they should not be seen to have succeeded,” the prime minister added.
Zelensky said that since he addressed the London Summit, and suggested peace talks between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations, it had started to produce hope of a ceasefire.
In his nightly video address to the nation early on Wednesday, the president said Russia’s demands were becoming “more realistic.”
The two sides were expected to speak again on Wednesday.