Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Kiev's membership to the military alliance would ensure the country's security and territorial integrity.

Scholz (L) said Berlin was prepared to punish Russia in case of an incursion into Ukraine.
Scholz (L) said Berlin was prepared to punish Russia in case of an incursion into Ukraine. (AFP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his country will continue to pursue its goal of NATO membership despite Russia's anger and some Western countries' scepticism.

Joining the alliance would guarantee his country's survival, the Ukrainian president said at a news conference with Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday.

"Today, many journalists and many leaders are hinting ... that it is possible not to take risks, not to constantly raise the issue of future membership in the alliance," Zelenskyy said.

That is "because these risks are associated with the reaction of the Russian Federation," he added, but also said he believes "we should move along the path we have chosen". 

"We understand that NATO membership would ensure our security and our territorial integrity," he told the news conference.

READ MORE: More airlines to avoid Ukraine's airspace over possible Russian invasion

'A geopolitical weapon'

Ukrainian leader also told Scholz that Russia was wielding its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a controversial energy link bypassing Ukraine, as a "geopolitical weapon".

"We have certain disagreements in our assessments" of the Russia-Germany energy link, Zelenskyy said, adding "We clearly understand that it is a geopolitical weapon."

The pipeline has been a growing irritant in Germany's relations with the US and Ukraine.

Russia has completed the building the pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea, but German regulators are yet to approve its use.

US President Joe Biden has warned that he would find a way to "bring an end" to the project should Russia invade Ukraine.

Without mentioning Nord Stream 2 by name, Scholz said that "no one should doubt the determination and preparedness" of Berlin to punish Russia in case it attacks its neighbour.

"We will act then and they will be very far-reaching measures that will have a significant impact on Russia's economic development opportunities," Scholz said.

READ MORE: Has Russia really weaponised natural gas?

Russia has moved more than 100,000 troops and heavy weapons to within striking distance of Ukraine in recent weeks, prompting the United States and its NATO allies to warn that an invasion could be imminent.

Moscow denies it is planning an attack, calling the military manoeuvres exercises, but it has issued written demands that NATO forgo any further expansion eastwards including Ukraine. Members of the alliance have rejected the demand.

READ MORE: US couldn't quell Russia's security concerns - Kremlin 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies