BRUSSELS — President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine lambasted the previous leaders of Germany and France, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, in a video tackle launched late on Sunday, seemingly blaming them for the deaths of Ukrainian civilians.
“I invite Ms. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy to visit Bucha, to see what the policy of 14 years of concessions to Russia has led to,” Mr. Zelensky mentioned, referring to the Kyiv suburb the place photographs surfaced over the weekend of our bodies mendacity within the streets after Russian forces withdrew. “See with your own eyes the tortured and slain Ukrainians.”
Mr. Zelensky was talking, he mentioned, on the 14th anniversary of the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, the place, after a significant inside debate, NATO promised membership within the alliance to Georgia and Ukraine however with out specifying when.
He blamed NATO nation politicians for harboring an “absurd fear” of Russia, including: “They thought that by refusing Ukraine, they could appease Russia, to convince it to respect Ukraine and live normally alongside us.”
Later, he insisted that he didn’t blame the West or anybody else besides the Russian troopers who he mentioned dedicated crimes in opposition to Ukrainians and those that gave them their orders. “But we have the right to talk about indecision,” he mentioned.
The Bucharest summit was marked by a debate over whether or not to present Ukraine and Georgia a proper “membership action plan” to information them towards qualifying for NATO membership. President George W. Bush favored doing so. Ms. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy weren’t alone in arguing that neither nation was prepared, and that to increase membership plans to them would severely harm relations with Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin.
Mr. Bush’s protection secretary, Robert M. Gates, instructed him that providing Georgia and Ukraine NATO membership “was truly overreaching” and, in keeping with his memoir, a case of “recklessly ignoring what the Russians considered their own vital national interests.”
Mr. Putin made the identical level in Bucharest, saying that Ukraine and Georgia becoming a member of NATO have been crimson strains for him.
In a late-night compromise, all NATO member states agreed that the 2 nations shouldn’t be supplied a membership motion plan, however have been promised membership in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later.
Fiona Hill, a Russia scholar who was then a U.S. authorities intelligence analyst, mentioned that the intelligence neighborhood tried to steer Mr. Bush to not make that promise, however failed. Four months later, Russia went to battle in Georgia. As for Ukraine, Ms. Hill mentioned, Mr. Putin “has been trying to shut that door ever since.”
Even after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and helped sponsor separatist rebels within the japanese areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, NATO made no effort to deliver Ukraine into line for membership. NATO nations helped Ukraine practice and equip its military, and supplied vital financial and political assist, however with out membership, the nation remained unprotected by the alliance’s dedication to collective protection — leaving it in a “gray zone,” Mr. Zelensky mentioned on Sunday.
Ms. Merkel responded on Monday by way of a spokeswoman, who mentioned that she stood “by her decisions in connection with the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest.”
But Ms. Merkel additionally supported the efforts “to stand by Ukraine and to put an end to the barbarism and the war by Russia against Ukraine,” the spokeswoman added.
Mr. Sarkozy had no quick remark. But Germany and France — and NATO as a complete — have made it clear even throughout this battle that they’ve little interest in preventing a nuclear-armed Russia on behalf of Ukraine. Both nations, together with different NATO allies, have given Ukraine the weapons and different assist that Mr. Zelensky has used to attempt to beat again the Russian invasion.