Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Putin calls for NATO guarantees not to expand east

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow would seek Western guarantees to prevent further expansion of NATO and the deployment of its weapons near its country’s borders, a strong demand that comes amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian and Western officials have expressed concern over a Russian military build-up near Ukraine, saying it could be a sign of Moscow’s intention to strike. Russian diplomats contested those claims, expressing concern about Ukraine’s own military build-up near an area of ​​separatist conflict in the country’s eastern side.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, noting that Putin could quickly order an invasion of Ukraine, warned that Washington is prepared to impose heavy sanctions on Russia if it does so.

Speaking at a Kremlin ceremony, where he received credentials from foreign ambassadors, Putin stressed that Russia would seek “credible and long-term security guarantees”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Kremlin on December 1, 2021 in Moscow, Russia.

Putin said, “In negotiations with the United States and its allies, we will insist on working out specific agreements that will exclude further NATO advances to the east and the deployment of weapons systems that allow us to move closer to Russian territory.” Threatening the surrounding area,” Putin said.

Alleging that “threats are increasing along our western border,” NATO placed its military infrastructure closer to Russia and offered the West to engage in substantial negotiations on the issue, adding that Moscow needed not only verbal Assurance would be required, but also a “legal guarantee”. ,

“We are not seeking any special conditions for ourselves and feel that any agreement should take into account the interests of Russia and all Euro-Atlantic countries,” Putin said. “A calm and stable situation must be ensured for all and is necessary for all without exclusion.”

Putin’s statement comes a day after giving NATO a stern warning against deploying its troops and weapons in Ukraine, saying it represented a red line for Russia and would launch a strong response.

Tensions have been rising in recent weeks over the creation of a Russian army near Ukraine, which worried Ukrainian and Western officials, who saw it as a possible sign of Moscow’s intention to invade its former Soviet neighbour. NATO foreign ministers warned Russia on Tuesday that any attempt to further destabilize Ukraine would be a costly mistake.

The Kremlin insisted it had no such intentions and accused Ukraine and its Western backers of making claims to cover up their alleged offensive designs.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the concentration of Ukrainian troops looked “alarming”, adding that he was going to raise the issue on Thursday during a ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Stockholm.

Speaking on Wednesday in Riga, Latvia, Blinken said “we don’t know whether President Putin has decided to attack.”

“We know he’s putting the ability to do that on short order, if he should decide to do so,” Blinken told reporters. “We must be prepared for all contingencies.”

The US “has made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond strongly, including a number of high-impact economic measures that we have avoided using in the past,” he said.

FILE - Foreign Minister Antony Blinken and Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba, not pictured, hold a news conference after US-Ukraine Strategic Dialogue talks at the State Department in Washington, November 10, 2021.

FILE – Foreign Minister Antony Blinken and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba, not pictured, hold a news conference after US-Ukraine Strategic Dialogue talks at the State Department in Washington, November 10, 2021.

Blinken did not provide any details on what kind of sanctions were under consideration for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In April, the European Parliament approved a non-binding resolution to cut Russia from the so-called SWIFT system of international payments if its troops enter Ukraine. Such a move would go a long way toward blocking Russian businesses from the global financial system, even though Moscow developed its own parallel system in preparation for such a move.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Ukraine has gathered about 125,000 troops – about half the size of its army – near the conflict zone. He also pointed to the increasing number of ceasefire violations in the past.

Amid tensions, Moscow on Wednesday began exercises involving more than 10,000 troops in southwestern Russia. A small exercise also began on the Baltic in Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost region, involving 1,000 personnel from armored units.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 after the country’s Kremlin-friendly president was ousted from power by mass protests. Moscow also put its weight behind the separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s eastern industrial region, known as the Donbass. More than 14,000 people have died in the fighting.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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