Putin urges the West to act quickly to provide security guarantees
Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the West to act swiftly to meet Russia’s demand for security guarantees that will prevent NATO expansion into Ukraine and the deployment of military alliance weapons there.
Speaking at an annual marathon press conference, the Russian leader welcomed talks with the United States that will begin in Geneva next month, but sternly warned that Moscow hopes the talks will yield quick results.
“We have made it clear to them that any further expansion of NATO to the east is unacceptable,” Putin said.
Last week, Moscow filed draft security documents demanding that NATO deny accession to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and cancel military alliance deployments in Central and Eastern Europe. A key principle of the NATO alliance is that membership is open to any qualified country.
“Are we the ones putting missiles near the borders of the United States?” Putin said. “No, it is the United States that has come to our house with its missiles. They are already on the threshold of our house. Is it an excessive requirement not to place any offensive system near our house?
Moscow has filed its lawsuit amid growing tensions over the build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine that has fueled fears of a possible invasion. U.S. President Joe Biden warned Putin at a conference earlier this month that Russia will face “serious consequences” if it attacks Ukraine.
Putin has previously denied plans to launch an attack, but has described NATO expansion and the deployment of weapons in Ukraine as a “red line”.
When asked on Thursday if he could offer a guarantee that Russia would not invade Ukraine, Putin replied: “It is you who must give us guarantees and give them immediately, now, and not talk about them for decades.”
“How would the Americans respond if we put our missiles on the U.S. borders with Canada or Mexico?” He exclaimed.
The United States and its allies have said they will not give Russia the kind of guarantee Putin wants in Ukraine. U.S. officials confer with European allies ahead of Geneva talks.
The Russian leader accused during his press conference that the West had “deceived, shamelessly swindled” Moscow by offering verbal promises in the 1990s not to expand NATO’s presence in the east and then expand to incorporate countries of the former Soviet bloc in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Central and Eastern Europe. Soviet republics in the Baltic.
Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999, followed in 2004 by Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In the following years, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and Northern Macedonia also joined forces, bringing NATO membership to 30 nations.
“We are not the ones threatening anyone,” Putin said. “Are we the ones who have reached the borders of the United States or the British? No, they have come to us and now they say that Ukraine will be in NATO.”
He accused the West of trying to make Ukraine “anti-Russia, constantly reinforced with modern weapons and brainwashing the population.”
Russia cannot continue to live in anticipation of security threats posed by the possible deployment of Western weapons in Ukraine, Putin said.
“Does Russia have to live constantly watching what is happening and what new weapons systems are being put in place?” he exclaimed. “We have to think about ensuring our safety.”
He argued that Western weapons could encourage hawk forces in Ukraine to try to forcibly regain control of Russia-backed separatist regions and even try to regain Crimea, which Russia annexed to Ukraine in 2014.
The Russian leader said Western expressions of concern over an alleged Russian invasion could be the prelude to a possible attempt by Ukraine to launch an offensive against rebels in the east after two failed attempts in the past.
“There is the impression that they are preparing a third military operation and warn us not to intervene,” he said.
Ukrainian officials have denied any intention to launch an offensive against the separatists.
Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine in 2014 and soon after gave its support to a separatist rebellion in the east of the country. The fighting, which began more than seven years ago, has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated the industrial heart of Ukraine, known as the Donbas.