We are ready to exchange Belgorod for NATO membership – Zelenskyy

 20 AUGUST 2023

In response to a question on the possibility of territorial concessions for the sake of Ukraine’s membership in NATO, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was ready to exchange it for the Russian city of Belgorod.

Source: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, at a joint press conference with Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark

Quote: “We are ready to exchange Belgorod for our membership in NATO.”

Details: That is how Zelenskyy commented on proposals to exchange the territory of Ukraine for peace and NATO membership.

Frederiksen noted that it is up to Ukraine to decide whether to negotiate peace and when these negotiations should take place.

According to Zelenskyy, it is difficult to criticise the Ukrainian counteroffensive when the country’s forces do not have appropriate weapons. According to him, Ukraine will not risk the lives of thousands of defenders in order to advance up to 5-8 kilometres with no powerful weapons.


He noted that while Ukraine was preparing for a counteroffensive, the Russians really dug in, mining the territory and building up their defences, but they have been doing all this since 2014.


  • During his visit to the Netherlands, President Volodymyr Zelensky ruled out the possibility of exchanging Ukrainian territories for anything in his comment on the likelihood of peace negotiations with the Russian Federation.
  • On 15 August, Stian Jenssen, head of the NATO Secretary-General’s Office, suggested that Ukraine could potentially join the Alliance in exchange for its territory. However, he emphasised that such a decision should be made by Kyiv alone.
  • Subsequently, Jenssen referred to his proposals to discuss Ukraine’s membership of the North Atlantic Alliance in exchange for territorial concessions to Russia as a “mistake”.
  • NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, commenting on Jenssen’s statement, insisted that only Ukraine can decide when conditions for peace negotiations emerge, and Ukrainians are the only ones who can decide which decision is acceptable at the negotiating table.

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  1. Zelenskyy is joking, but imagine the situation now if instead of the Russian League, the Ukrainian army had staged its counteroffensive there. Those forces would have occupied the whole region in no time at all and then moved on towards Moscow. As the Prigozhin rebellion has shown, resistance would have been weak, it would have taken the shocked regime too long to move reinforcements into the way. There could be the yellow/blue flag flying on the Kremlin now and Putin would have vanished in an uprising of angry Russians. What a missed opportunity! It’s sad that because of Nato’s wrongheaded sensibilities, Ukraine has to fight with one arm bound on the back.

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