UPDATED 8:55 AM PT – Saturday, September 11, 2021
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed full warfare with Russia was a definite possibility. Speaking at a summit in Yalta in the disputed territory of Crimea on Friday, Zelensky said war was fortunately avoided last time Russia became aggressive with the former Soviet republic.
“I think there can be. That’s the case,” he stated. “I think in 2014, it was unfortunately a step forward towards it by the Russian side, and then, thanks God, because of the Ukrainian people they did a step backward. They’ve been stopped.”
Zelensky added if an all out war were to occur, it would destroy relations between his country, Russia and mutual neighbor Belarus. He also noted any warfare by the Russians would be the biggest mistake Russian President Vladimir Putin could make.
At a meeting between Joe Biden and Zelensky last week, Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to protecting Ukraine was from Russian aggression.
“The United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression and our support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” he announced. “Today, we are going to discuss how the U.S. can continue to support Ukraine as it advances democratic reforms, agenda and movement toward being integrated in Europe.”
Even with these commitments, many have been concerned the U.S. was no longer a reliable ally. During the 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea by Russia, the Obama administration responded lightly.
Strong words were had and new sanctions put in place, but Putin was allowed to absorb the Ukrainian territory into Russia without more pushback. Although Zelensky was not worried about the U.S.’s reliability for now, concerns about how forthcoming Biden was about Ukraine’s accession into NATO were still existent.
“I think yes. I think we can, because it seems to me that today we have our relations on a different level,” he explained. “Well, we have not received, I’ll be honest with you, a direct position on Ukraine’s accession to NATO.”
Russia has tried to take pieces of Ukraine since 2014, de facto succeeding in annexing Crimea by force. To fight this off, the U.S. has committed over $2 billion to Ukraine since the start of tensions and over $400 million this year alone.