Ukraine enters Nato striking blow against arch enemy Putin after Biden promises to defend new ally against Russia

UKRAINE is entering the NATO military alliance against arch-enemy Putin after Joe Biden promised to defend its new ally against Russia.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said he welcomed a statement confirming his country's eventual entry into the alliance.

His administration had urged NATO to speed up Ukraine's entry through a Membership Action Plan.

Earlier today, he told Reuters that he wanted a clear "yes" or "no" from US President Joe Biden on giving Ukraine such a plan.

Having received confirmation that Ukraine will enter the alliance means the country will have the backing of NATO and allies will help defend it.

US and Russian leaders are preparing to meet in Geneva on Wednesday.

But Mr Zelensky said that Joe Biden should have met him before his first summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin as they could resolve nothing on Ukraine without Kiev's involvement.

Earlier this month, Joe Biden reaffirmed US support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and invited Zelensky to the White House in July.

Zelensky, 43, said: "It would be better to have this meeting before the summit."

The Ukrainian president added he did not expect Putin and Biden to come up with a solution to Ukraine's conflict at the summit.

"It is not possible to decide for Ukraine," he said. "So there won't be a concrete result."

Zelensky was seeking Washington's support for Ukraine's seven-year war with Russian-backed separatists.

On Friday, the Pentagon announced a new $150 million (£106 million) package of military assistance for Kiev.

Fighting escalated at the start of 2021 and in April Russia amassed 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and in Crimea, prompting warnings from NATO.

Russia later announced a pullback, but both Washington and Kiev say that the withdrawal has been limited.

Zelensky estimated that more than 90,000 Russian troops remained along Ukraine's borders and said tensions could still escalate.

"Any escalation could lead to a conflict," he said. "If the number of troops near our borders has increased this could result in a massive war."

The conflict in eastern Ukraine, including the escalation of tensions over the past few months, is expected to be discussed in Geneva.

Zelensky said his country was ready to join NATO, explaining: "We are fighting a war. This is proof we are ready to join.

"We are proving every day that we are ready to be in the alliance more than most of the EU countries."

In April, Zelensky invited Putin to meet in eastern Ukraine but Putin appeared to shoot down that offer, saying the Ukrainian leader was welcome in Moscow "any time".

Putin also stressed that Zelensky should discuss the conflict in eastern Ukraine with separatists directly.

Kiev has been battling pro-Russia separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014, following Moscow's annexation of the Crimean peninsula. The war has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms to support the separatists, which Moscow has denied.

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