NATO without Ukraine would be a loss for the alliance, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday.
"We do not think that there will be a strong EU without Ukraine. I openly tell the US president of this: NATO without Ukraine would be for the group’s loss," Zelensky told the Yalta European Strategy forum – a leading event for discussing Ukraine’s future in Europe and the globe.
Ukraine is ready to join NATO, Zelensky said, adding that the EU without Ukraine will "gradually weaken."
On the question whether there is a possibility of a comprehensive war with Russia, Zelensky said that he thought there was such a possibility, adding that it would be Russia's "biggest mistake" to enter such a war with Ukraine.
He stressed that a neighborly relationship between the two countries will not be possible in case if a possible war erupts.
Russian forces entered the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014, with President Vladimir Putin formally dividing the region into two separate federal subjects of the Russian Federation the following month.
Crimea's ethnic Tatars have faced persecution since that time, a situation especially decried by Turkey.
Turkey, the EU and US, as well as the UN General Assembly, view Crimea’s annexation as illegal.
Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in Donbas has seen more than 13,000 people killed since 2014, according to the UN.
The region is one of several sources of friction between Russia and Ukraine.
*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from AnkaraAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.