Vladimir Putin: West ‘ignored’ Russia’s main security concerns and NATO ‘damaged us’

For weeks, Putin has said little publicly about the crisis as Russia builds up tens of thousands of troops near the border with Ukraine, fueling fears of a possible invasion.

But speaking at a news conference on Tuesday after a five-hour meeting in Moscow with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Putin said: “I have clearly informed the Prime Minister about this – that the Russia’s fundamental concerns were ignored. We did not fully consider our three main requests.”

Putin added that Russia failed to take “adequate consideration of our three main requirements related to NATO expansion, the abandonment of the deployment of offensive weapons systems near Russia’s borders, and the return of [NATO] The bloc’s military infrastructure in Europe reached its state in 1997, when the Act Establishing Russia-NATO was signed. “

Putin also accused the US of directly conspiring to “draw us into armed conflict” over the Ukraine crisis by using the country as a “tool” for NATO operations. He stated that Washington’s main goal is to force “our allies in Europe to impose very tough sanctions against us,” or “to draw Ukraine into NATO.”

The US and NATO argue that Putin’s demands – which include a promise never to expand eastwards to countries including Ukraine – violate NATO’s open door policy and are not a starter in the talks. judge.

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Putin did not offer any resolution on Tuesday, but said he was open to more negotiations.

“I hope that this dialogue will continue,” he said, adding: “I hope that eventually we will find this solution, although it is not an easy one, and we I’m aware of this. But what that would be, I’m of course not ready to say today.”

Putin ended the press conference with a brief lecture on what he saw as NATO’s history of deception, declaring that the alliance promised to expand “not an inch” to the east. “They say one thing, they do another,” Putin said. “As people say, they deceived us, and they simply deceived us.”

Russian officials have made this claim several times in the past; The US and NATO have refused to make such promises.

Mr. Putin also reiterated his opposition to Ukraine’s possible accession to NATO and said Kyiv was trying to retake Crimea – Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia in 2014 – by military force, potentially bringing the alliance in. open conflict with Russia.

“This [Crimea] is territory under Russian sovereignty, the question arises for us,” he said. Imagine that Ukraine is a NATO country and start these military operations. Then what should we fight against NATO? So has anyone thought about this? It seems not. “

Diplomats from the US, Russia, Ukraine, NATO and the European Union have engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activities in recent weeks.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a phone call on Tuesday. After that call, a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lavrov said Lavrov gave no indication that Moscow would de-escalate from the border with Ukraine.

Blinken told Foreign Minister Lavrov that if Putin “has no intention of war or regime change,” then it’s time to pull back troops and heavy weapons and engage in serious, important diplomatic discussions. this office said.

Lavrov replied that the escalation claimed by the US was not happening, the official said, but just Russia moving troops within its borders.

US State Department officials second confirmation it has “received a follow-up text from Russia” on a proposed document the US sent to the Kremlin last week on how to defuse tensions and pave the way for further security talks to meet the Russia’s security requirements.

However, on Tuesday, the Kremlin said that Russia has yet to send a “primary reply” to the United States. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a conference meeting: “There is a disturbance. “It [the Russian correspondence] Consider a different problem. The main answer on this has not been delivered yet, it is still being prepared. “

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a press conference alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday.

Johnson accused Russia of “taking a gun on Ukraine” and warned that a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a “political disaster” and “humanitarian”.

“Potential aggression is absolutely flying in the face of President Putin’s claims to be acting in the interest of the Ukrainian people,” Johnson said.

Zelensky said that if a war between Russia and Ukraine started, it would be a “major war in Europe”, adding that “there will be no occupation of any territory or cities in Ukraine. .. but there will be a bloody tragedy if the invasion of our country begins.”

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