Russian President Putin wants guarantees that NATO will not expand further east or place weapons near the Russian border. This should ensure Russia’s long-term security, he said when welcoming the new ambassadors to the Kremlin.
Putin stressed that he wanted to start a dialogue with NATO countries on, among other things, stopping enlargement. Any agreement, which should have a legal basis, should be in the interest of all countries, according to Putin.
The Russian president has made his statements at a time when tensions with Ukraine and NATO are mounting rapidly. US Secretary of State Blinken said today he was “deeply concerned” by the tens of thousands of military personnel that Russia recently sent to the border area with Ukraine.
“Any Russian NATO proposal is illegal”
Last week the Ukrainian government launched a coup having foiled which would have been set up by Russia. President Zelensky said the coup would have taken place this week without intervention.
Today Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba reacted swiftly to Putin’s statements about NATO. According to Kuleba, Russia does not have the right to make such requests. Any Russian proposal regarding NATO is “illegitimate,” he said.
Putin has been strongly agitated for some time now against, among other things, Ukraine’s possible NATO membership. Yesterday he spoke of a “red line” if NATO sends troops to Ukraine or places weapons in the country.
Meet Lavrov, Blinken
Putin’s call came at the same time as warnings from NATO foreign ministers, who are meeting in Latvia. It would be a “costly mistake” for Russia to continue to destabilize Ukraine, they said. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg echoed the warning today.
US Secretary Blinken said Russia is destabilizing Ukraine from inside and out. He said economic sanctions would “have a heavy impact” if Moscow decides to invade Ukraine.
Russia denies having such plans and says it can place soldiers anywhere it wants on its own territory. Western reports of a possible Russian attack are false and alarming, according to Moscow. Tomorrow, Blinken will meet his Russian counterpart Lavrov in Stockholm. Both said they wanted to discuss the tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine and Russia have been grappling with a military conflict since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. In the eastern regions of Ukraine, Donetsk and Lugansk, pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian army face each other. At least 13,000 have been killed and over two million have been displaced.
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