Why wait to react to a crisis or do everything you can to help prevent the crisis?
Those were two key messages Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered today at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
Axios reported Zelenskyy criticized the West for claiming that Putin has made the decision to invade, but not imposing sanctions until the attack has begun: “What are you waiting for? We don’t need sanctions after bombardment happens, after we have no borders, no economy. Why would we need those sanctions then?”
‘Someone Here Is Lying’
He pointed out that, “Ukraine is longing for peace. Europe is longing for peace. The world is saying it doesn’t want any war, while Russia is claiming she doesn’t want to intervene. Someone here is lying.” He received a standing ovation.
Zelenskyy criticized NATO for claiming it has an “open-door” policy while refusing to let Ukraine in, and called for the alliance to provide a time frame for his country’s eventual membership.
“Be honest about it. Open doors are good, but we need open answers. Not years and years of closed questions,” Zelensky said. Ukraine will never be a “buffer” between Russia and the West, he added.
In a Q&A session after his speech, Zelenskyy said, “Just putting ourselves in coffins and waiting for the Russian soldiers to come in is just not something we are going to do.”
Meeting With Harris
Earlier in the day Zelenskyy met with Vice President Kamala Harris. In a statement issued after the meeting, the White House said they “discussed recent developments and assessments of Russia’s massive military build-up around Ukraine.
“The Vice President underscored the U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. They discussed the united Transatlantic approach if Russia further invades Ukraine, and the Vice President outlined the swift and severe economic measures that have been prepared alongside our Allies and partners.
“The Vice President and President Zelenskyy agreed on the importance of diplomacy and de-escalation.”
Harris Speaks At Conference
Harris spoke at the conference on Saturday, noting that, “ Russia continues to claim it is ready for talks while, at the same time, it narrows the avenues for diplomacy. Their actions simply do not match their words.
“And let me be clear. I can say with absolute certainty: If Russia further invades Ukraine, the United States, together with our Allies and partners, will impose significant and unprecedented economic costs.
“Make no mistake: The imposition of these sweeping and coordinated measures will inflict great damage on those who must be held accountable. And we will not stop with economic measures. We will further reinforce our NATO Allies on the eastern flank,” she said.