Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has revealed that Joe Biden assured him that Kyiv's attempts to join the NATO alliance were in its own hands after a teleconference with between the two leaders on Thursday. The meeting comes shortly after the American President held a video conference wit. Vladimir Putin warning him of strong sanctions of Russian troops massing at the border were to make moves on Ukraine.
"President Biden said very clearly ... that any negotiations, any decisions that concern Ukraine, cannot be taken without Ukraine," Zelenskiy chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, told the 1+1 TV channel according to Reuters.
"[He said] that the decision on Ukraine's accession to NATO is the decision of the Ukrainian people only, this is a sovereign and independent Ukrainian state...And it depends on Ukraine and NATO members," Yermak was quoted as saying.
The US has made clear it's stand of support to Ukraine in the matter with higher officials in the Biden government saying that proposed economic sanctions include targeting the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Moscow has so far denied all allegations of trying to make aggressive moves on Ukraine even as other European leaders keep a watchful eye on Russian troops massed at the border.
Russia's Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine of moving heavy artillery towards the front line of fighting in the Donbass with pro-Russian separatists in the east of the former Soviet republic and failing to engage in a peace process.
"With the support of NATO countries pumping the country with weapons, Kyiv is building up its contingent on the line of contact in Donbass," the ministry tweeted.
Ukraine claims almost 14,000 lives have been lost in the seven-year conflict between Ukraine and Russia since the latter annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, unleashing a wide-scale conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian separatists.