Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a formal NATO application

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a formal application for NATO membership on September 30, 2022. (Photo: Ukraine President's Office)

Ukraine Responds to Putin Annexations With Fast-Track NATO Application

Lamenting the lack of any progress toward a diplomatic settlement, one anti-war campaigner asked: "Will the world stand idly by as we careen towards nuclear apocalypse?"

Jake Johnson

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday formally applied for NATO membership after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees to annex four Ukrainian territories, moves that signal the monthslong war is only escalating further amid growing fears of a nuclear conflict.

"De facto, we have already made our way to NATO," Zelenskyy said in a statement, making his case for officially joining the alliance whose members have pumped billions of dollars worth of high-tech weaponry into the war zone.

"If this cycle of escalation continues unchecked, then the prospect of direct nuclear conflict between America and Russia will become an active probability."

"We have already proven compatibility with alliance standards," Zelenskyy continued. "They are real for Ukraine—real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction. We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other."

To succeed, Ukraine's bid for NATO membership must be accepted unanimously by alliance nations, an outcome that is currently seen as highly unlikely. If Ukraine were to become a NATO member, the alliance would be obligated to send troops to Ukraine to directly fight invading Russian forces, ushering in World War III and a direct clash of nuclear-armed powers.

"Will the world stand idly by as we careen towards nuclear apocalypse?" Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink, asked in response to Ukraine's application for "accelerated" NATO membership.

The application comes months into what's devolved into a devastating war and a massive humanitarian crisis with no end in sight as major world powers—including the United States—fail to mount an effective push for diplomacy, despite widespread global support for an end to the conflict and the mounting threat of nuclear catastrophe.

In a "60 Minutes" appearance that aired Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that peace talks have not resumed because "Russia has not demonstrated any willingness in this moment to engage in meaningful discussions."

"If and when that changes," said Blinken, "we will do everything we can to support a diplomatic process."

During a ceremony on Friday, Putin said he wants to resume peace talks with Ukraine but is not willing to negotiate over the four newly annexed regions.

Zelenskyy, for his part, said Friday that "we are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia."

Anatol Lieven, director of the Eurasia Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote in a column Friday that "the very fact that direct peace talks between Ukraine and Russia are now so difficult means that the Biden administration must assume greater responsibility for diplomatic efforts to contain and limit the conflict."

"Not to do so would essentially be abdicating its responsibility to protect the United States and the American people from threats to their very existence," Lieven argued. "This danger is in no sense hypothetical or speculative. Both before and during the war, the Biden administration has responded to Russia's aggressive moves by increasing its support to Ukraine. At every point, the Russian government has responded not by backing down, but by further escalating in turn."

"If this cycle of escalation continues unchecked," he warned, "then the prospect of direct nuclear conflict between America and Russia will become an active probability."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Citing 'Unprecedented Crisis,' House Dems Push Biden to Protect Haitians From Deportation

Warning of "mortal danger," one advocacy group argues extending and redesignating Temporary Protected Status for Haitians "is a matter of life and death."

Jessica Corbett ·

Pentagon Fails Another Audit, Yet Congress Poised to Approve $847 Billion Budget

"This isn't using our taxpayer dollars wisely," said the National Priorities Project. "It's robbing programs that we need, like the discontinued child tax credit that cut child poverty by half."

Kenny Stancil ·

Experts Warn 'Doomsday Scenario' for Colorado River Basin Possible in 2023

"The problem with massive projects like Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam," said one climate journalist, "is they were engineered for a climate that no longer exists."

Julia Conley ·

Starbucks Violated Law and Must Bargain With Union in Seattle: NLRB

The coffee giant, which plans to appeal, "is continuing its aggressive anti-union campaign against workers by delaying, confusing, and flat-out refusing to bargain with them," said Starbucks Workers United.

Jessica Corbett ·

Three UK Universities Ban Fossil Fuel Industry Recruiters From Campus

"It is vital that our universities show with actions, not words, that they are taking the side of climate justice, and not of the industries driving us deeper into a climate crisis," said one campaigner.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo