Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, could invade European countries next following the war in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Speaking in a video addressed to NATO leaders, Zelensky urged NATO member countries to help Ukraine win the war against Russia and added that their victory could prevent the Kremlin from targeting European countries, including Moldova, the Baltic countries and Poland in about a year.
“I can say what we need: We need security guarantees, and you have to find a place for Ukraine in the common security space. There will be either urgent help for Ukraine, which is enough to win, or Russia’s postponed war with you,” Zelensky said in the video, a copy of which was posted on his official Telegram channel. “Next year could be a worse situation [for] not only Ukraine but also several other states, possibly members of the alliance… under fire from Russia.”
“The question is—who is next?. Moldova? Or the Baltic countries? Or Poland? The answer is—all of them,” he added.
Zelensky’s virtual appearance came Wednesday, the same day NATO leaders issued a formal invitation for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance after Turkey on Tuesday lifted a veto on their membership. In return for agreeing to lift the block, Sweden and Finland gave a set of promises that they will act against threats to Turkey’s national security.
Putin, who previously threatened Finland and Sweden against joining NATO, on Wednesday said he now has no problems with both countries entering the military alliance. However, he warned that Russia would respond in kind if NATO set up military infrastructure in Finland and Sweden.
“If military contingents and military infrastructure were deployed there, we would be obliged to respond symmetrically and raise the same threats for those territories where threats have arisen for us,” Putin said.
Russia launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine in February after the latter expressed a desire to join the NATO alliance. In his speech on the day of the invasion, Putin said the Kremlin aimed to “demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine. Later, Russian added another objective: ensuring Ukraine’s neutral status.