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Zelensky calls NATO 'weak' after alliance rejects Ukraine no-fly zone

Zelensky calls NATO 'weak' after alliance rejects Ukraine no-fly zone
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers a statement during the 58th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on February 19. File Photo by Ronald Wittek/EPA-EFE

March 4 (UPI) -- President Volodymyr Zelensky called NATO "weak" during an address Friday after the alliance rejected a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

"We believe that NATO countries have created a narrative that closing the skies over Ukraine would provoke Russia's direct aggression against NATO," Zelensky said in the televised address.

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"This is the self-hypnosis of those who are weak, underconfident internally, despite the fact they possess weapons many times more powerful than ours."

Zelensky added that anyone else who dies in the country will also die because of NATO "weakness" and "disunity" for the refusal to close Ukrainian air space.

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"All the alliance has managed to do so far is to carry 50 tons of diesel fuel for Ukraine through its procurement system probably so that we can burn the Budapest Memorandum," Zelensky said.

In the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, Russia agreed with the United States and Britain to commit to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine if the country were to transfer its inherited Soviet nuclear weapons to Russia for decommissioning.

Zelensky's comments also came after Russian forces on Friday took control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Ukraine after a shelling attack.

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"Today, the alliance's leadership gave the green light for further bombing in Ukrainian cities by refusing to make a no-fly zone," Zelensky said. "I do not know who you can protect and whether you can protect NATO countries."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a press briefing in Brussels on Friday that the United States would not create a no-fly zone because enforcing it could provoke further war in Europe.

"The only way to actually implement something like a no-fly zone is to send NATO planes into Ukrainian airspace and to shoot down Russian planes, and that could lead to a full-fledged war in Europe," Blinken said.

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"President Biden has been clear that we are not going to get into a war with Russia. But we are going to tremendous lengths with allies and partners to provide the Ukrainians with the means to effectively defend themselves."

Blinken's comments came even as he warned that the war in Ukraine is "likely to get worse before it gets better" even as the United States is "doing everything we can."

"When we say it is likely to get worse, it's unfortunately based on everything we know about President [Vladimir] Putin's methods when it comes to seeking to subjugate another country to his will or another region to his will. We saw it in Chechnya. We've seen it in Syria. We saw it, of course, in 2014 in Ukraine," Blinken said.

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"And what we're seeing on the battlefield is Russian forces seeking to encircle the major cities, including Kyiv, and we're seeing them use increasingly brutal methods, including going at civilians and civilian populations."

Scenes from the Russian war on Ukraine

European Union leaders attend a summit at the Chateau de Versailles near Paris on March 11, 2022. Photo by the European Union/ UPI | License Photo

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