Ukraine to get bigger army but it doesn’t mean war imminent: president
In an address to parliament, he urged
lawmakers to stay calm and united, not to sow panic and not to exploit a
standoff with Russia for political gain.
Although Russia has massed tens of thousands
of troops near Ukraine’s borders, Zelenskiy has repeatedly pushed back against
warnings by the United States and other NATO allies that Russia could attack
Ukraine at any moment.
He was speaking as he prepared to host the
prime ministers of Britain, Poland and the Netherlands – all of them NATO
member states – as part of efforts to defuse tensions with Russia and shore up
international support for Kyiv.
“This decree (was prepared) not because
we will soon have a war… but so that soon and in the future there will be
peace in Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said.
There are currently nearly 250,000 people in Ukraine’s
armed forces, which are vastly outnumbered and outgunned by Russia’s.
“We must be united in domestic politics.
You can be in opposition to the government, but you can’t be in opposition to
Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said.
“You can despise … the government, the
president, but you can’t despise your own people, sow panic in order to reap
political gains, keep people in a state of alarm.”
NATO member states have rallied round Ukraine
in recent weeks, with the United States, Britain and Poland among countries
offering military aid and calling for tough sanctions on Moscow if Russia
launches an attack.
Moscow has denied any plans to invade Ukraine
but has demand sweeping security guarantees from the West, including a promise
that Kyiv can never join NATO
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will
promise to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty on his visit to Kyiv.
After Zelenskiy finished speaking, lawmakers
gathered in the well of the chamber holding up flags of countries that have
shown their support, including Britain and Canada.