Zelensky says ‘only matter of time’ before Ukraine becomes Nato member

President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was only a "matter of time" before Ukraine became an official Nato member as he met the defence bloc's chief in Kyiv.

Kyiv has pushed to join Nato despite Russia's threat.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg reiterated on Thursday that Ukraine would be a member of the trans-Atlantic military alliance. He said the bloc would stand with Kyiv as long as it takes.

Mr Stoltenberg met the war-time president in Kyiv to discuss the status of the ongoing Russian war, a day after Moscow accused Ukraine's allies of helping plan and conduct last week’s missile strike on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters in the annexed Crimean Peninsula.

"We discussed strengthening Ukraine's air defence further in order to protect people from Russian terror," Mr Zelensky said in a post on social media X, describing Nato as a "de facto" ally.

He added that Mr Stoltenberg agreed to make efforts to get the bloc members to provide additional air support to protect Ukraine’s power plants and energy infrastructure that were damaged by Russian attacks.

The president said he reminded Mr Stoltenberg of the persistent drone, missile and artillery attacks that often strike residential areas. At least three women were killed in the street after artillery hit a residential area in Kherson in a fresh bout of Russian attack on residential places.

“In the face of such intense attacks against Ukrainians, against our cities, our ports, which are crucial for global food security, we need a corresponding intensity of pressure on Russia and a strengthening of our air defence,” Mr Zelensky said.

Nato has contracts for £2.08bn in ammunition for Ukraine, including 155 mm Howitzer shells, anti-tank guided missiles and tank ammunition, Mr Stoltenberg said.

He continued: "The stronger Ukraine becomes, the closer we come to ending Russia’s aggression.

“Russia could lay down arms and end its war today. Ukraine doesn’t have that option. Ukraine’s surrender would not mean peace. It would mean brutal Russian occupation. Peace at any price would be no peace at all.”

Mr Zelensky separately met France’s defence minister Sebastien Lecornu to discuss the supply of weapons to Ukraine. Mr Lecornu brought a delegation with 20 representatives from French defence contractors who manufacture drones, robots, artillery, ammunition and employ artificial intelligence and cybertechnology.

With agency inputs