Ukraine's Zelensky Blasts 'Weak' NATO for Refusing No-Fly Zone Amid Russian Invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has strongly criticized NATO for its refusal to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion of his country.

Zelensky said that NATO had given "a green light" for further bombing of Ukrainian cities by refusing his requests for a no-fly zone in a passionate speech delivered on Friday night.

The president said he did not agree with NATO's assessment that a no-fly zone could lead to an escalation of the conflict and confrontation between Russia and the military alliance, saying that argument showed the "self-hypnosis of those who are weak, under-confident inside."

"All the people who will die starting from this day will also die because of you. Because of your weakness, because of your disunity," Zelensky said.

"Is this the NATO we wanted? Is this the alliance you were building?" he added.

"You will not be able to buy us off with liters of fuel for liters of our blood, shed for our common Europe, for our common freedom, for our common future," Zelensky said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Secretary of State Antony Blinken both ruled out a no-fly zone over Ukraine on Friday.

"The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into Ukrainian airspace and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes," Stoltenberg said.

Zelensky has repeatedly called for NATO to impose a no-fly zone but the alliance has ruled it out over concerns that it would lead to a direct conflict with Russia. Blinken said on Friday that NATO was a "defensive alliance."

"We seek no conflict. But if conflict comes to us we are ready for it, and we will defend every inch of NATO territory," the secretary of state said.

Zelensky addressed thousands of protesters by satellite link on Friday as they gathered in European cities including Prague, Tbilisi and Bratislava.

"I want to urge you not to be silent," the Ukrainian president said.

"I want you to take to the streets and support Ukraine, support our efforts and struggle. Because if Ukraine does not get on its feet, then Europe will not get up either. If we fall, you fall too. So please don't be silent," Zelensky said.

Update 03/05/21 7:15 a.m. E.T.: This article was updated to include more information.

Zelensky Speaks at a Press Conference
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Kyiv on March 3, 2022. Zelensky has strongly criticized NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images