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Zelensky: Ukraine submits "accelerated" NATO application

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that Ukraine is making an "accelerated" bid to join NATO.

Driving the news: The announcement comes on the same day Russia annexed four Ukrainian territories after a series of referendums that most western governments have labeled a "sham."

  • At the outset of the invasion, Zelensky reiterated Ukraine’s aim to join the defensive alliance, which Finland and Sweden began the process of joining earlier this year.

What he's saying: "We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine's application for accelerated accession to NATO," Zelensky said on his Telegram channel.

  • "De facto, we have already proven compatibility with alliance standards. They are real for Ukraine — real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction," Zelensky said. "We trust each other, we help each other, and we protect each other. This is the alliance."

What's happening: On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed four Moscow-occupied areas of Ukraine on Friday: Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

  • Most western governments — including the U.S. and the European Union — say they won't recognize the annexed territory as Russian.
  • Zelensky's announcement in the response followed his previous warnings that annexation would cease diplomatic negotiations between the countries.

Our thought bubble via Axios' Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath: A speedy accession for Ukraine into NATO is unlikely.

  • It would not only need unanimous support from all 30 NATO members, upon accession, it would also immediately thrust the alliance directly into a conventional conflict with a nuclear power.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with details throughout.

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