(Update 1: Adds details)
Lviv, Ukraine, Sep (EFE).- Ukraine on Friday applied for NATO membership in “an accelerated procedure” in response to the annexation of four partially occupied regions by Russia while the Ukrainian army is close to encircling the Russian forces in Lyman in the oblast of Donetsk.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed the application together with the speaker of the Supreme Council Ruslan Stefanyshyn and Prime Minister Denys Shmygal after the urgent meeting of the National Council of Security and Defense concluded Friday in Kyiv.
It came after Russia’s Vladimir Putin moved to absorb the partially-occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, which equates to some 15% of Ukraine’s land.
The Ukrainian president said that Ukraine and NATO members were already de-facto allies with the Ukrainian army “meeting NATO requirements” and called for an expedited admission of Ukraine into the Alliance.
He added that Ukraine is where the fate of democracy was being decided in the struggle with tyranny and where the “joint values of the Euro-Atlantic communities are upheld.”
Zelenskyy also claimed that “only Ukraine becoming stronger and pushing away all the invaders can bring peace back.”
He underlined that Ukraine has always been a leader in negotiations with Russia.
“We are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but with another president,” he said.
Zelenskyy underlined that the “farce” annexation by Russia was “a sign of despair.”
The spokesman of the eastern administration of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Sergiy Cherevatyi, told Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne Friday that Kyiv’s troops were finalizing the encirclement of Russian forces in Lyman, a strategically important location in Donetsk.
He said “almost all” Russian logistical links were under Ukrainian fire.
The Ukrainian army has been trying to encircle the town by advancing from two directions to the east of the town.
Meanwhile, the spokeswoman of Ukraine’s southern command, Nataliya Gumeniuk, informed the press Friday that Ukrainian troops continued their counteroffensive in Kherson.EFE.