Putin blames the West for tensions and calls for security guarantees

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The Russian president has reiterated his demand for guarantees from the United States and its allies so that NATO does not expand eastward, blaming the West for the current tensions in Europe.

MOSCOW – Russian president on Tuesday reiterated demand for US and allied guarantees for NATO not to expand eastward, blaming the West for “growing tensions in Europe “.

The demands, contained in a proposed Russia-US security treaty and a Moscow-NATO security deal, were drafted amid growing tensions over the build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine. fueled fears of a possible invasion. Russia has denied plans to attack its neighbor, but has pushed for legal guarantees to rule out NATO expansion and the deployment of weapons there.

Putin accused Tuesday that if the US and NATO missile systems appear in Ukraine, these missiles will take only a few minutes to reach Moscow.

“For us, it’s the most serious challenge, a challenge to our security,” he said, adding that the Kremlin needs “legally binding long-term guarantees” from the West, rather than “verbal assurances.” , words “. and promises ”that Moscow cannot trust.

Putin noted that NATO has expanded eastward since the late 1990s while assuring that Russia’s concerns were unfounded.

“What is happening now, the tensions that are accumulating in Europe, is his fault (the United States and NATO) every step of the way,” the Russian leader said. “Russia has been forced to respond to every step. The situation has been getting worse and worse, getting worse and worse. And here we are today, in a situation where we are forced to resolve it in some way.”

Russia’s relations with the United States collapsed to post-Cold War lows after it annexed the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine in 2014 – gaining control of the long shores of the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov. to support a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine that still controls the territory. there. Tensions have risen again in recent weeks after Moscow rallied tens of thousands of troops near the Ukrainian border.

Putin has called on the West to guarantee that NATO will not expand into Ukraine or deploy its forces there, and raised the issue during a video call with US President Joe Biden two weeks ago.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday accused more than 120 employees of U.S. private military companies of currently operating in two war-torn villages in eastern Ukraine, training Ukrainian troops and setting up sites. shooting in residential buildings and different facilities.

Putin said the US “should understand that we have nowhere to go.”

“What they are now trying to do and plan to do in the territory of Ukraine is not thousands of miles away, it is happening right at the door of our house,” he said.

Putin added that Moscow expects “constructive and meaningful talks with a visible end result, and in a given period of time, that will guarantee equal security for all.”

“Armed conflict, bloodshed is not our choice, and we do not want this kind of development. We want to solve the problems through political and diplomatic means, “Putin said.

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