Russia wants to avoid conflict with West over Ukraine, but demands immediate security guarantees

says his country wants to avoid conflict with the West, but it needs an “immediate” response from the US and its allies to the Kremlin’s demands for security guarantees.

“This is not our (preferred) choice, we do not want this,” said Putin at his annual press conference on Thursday, when he was asked about the likelihood of conflict with neighboring Ukraine.

“You must give us guarantees, and immediately – now,” he said, addressing Washington and the .

Russia and the US-led NATO have recently been at odds over Ukraine. Kiev, along with Western countries, accuses  of preparing for an invasion of Ukraine by amassing troops and armaments near the border with that country. Moscow says it is free to move its military within its borders and that it is taking precautionary steps because of increased NATO activity near its territory.

Russia also denies preparing to wage a war on Ukraine and says it wants legal guarantees over its security from the US and NATO, demanding that the alliance stop further eastward expansion.

Last week, the Kremlin presented the West with comprehensive security demands in two draft documents, one sent to NATO and another to Washington, with Putin saying on Thursday that the US response to Russia’s for security guarantees has been generally positive.

“We are generally seeing positive reaction so far. American partners are telling us they are ready to start discussions, with talks [planned] in at the very start of the year,” the Russian leader said.

“Both sides have appointed their representatives. I hope the situation will develop along these lines,” Putin added.

The security guarantees Russia demands from the US and NATO include a pledge not to carry out NATO military activity in Eastern Europe, arguing that its security is threatened by Ukraine’s growing ties with the US-led military bloc as well as the possibility of NATO missiles being deployed against the Russian Federation on the Ukrainian territory.

Putin went on to say that Russia must think about its future security as Ukraine might be turned into an “anti-Russia” with advanced weapons accumulating there and its population being “brainwashed.”

“Can you imagine how Russia should live, continue living as history goes on? Should it always be cautious of what new weapons systems have been put in place?” the Russian president asked, warning that these state-of-the-art weapons could then be used as a cover to provoke armed conflicts in Donbass and Crimea.

“We just directly posed the question that there should be no further NATO movement to the east. The ball is in their court, they should answer us with something,” Putin added.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been deteriorating since 2014, when the then-Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty. The US and the European Union backed Kiev, refusing to recognize the referendum results and later imposing on Moscow.

Ukraine as well as the EU and the US also claim that Russia has a hand in an ongoing conflict that has erupted in the Donbass region of Ukraine between government forces and ethnic Russians since 2014. The West imposed sanctions on Russia after accusing it of interfering in the conflict. Moscow rejects the allegation.

The recent developments come as soaring tensions over Ukraine have brought East-West relations to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War era and dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Moscow has already received stern warning from the US, the EU and the Group of Seven that it will face “massive consequences”, including tough economic sanctions if Russia wages any war on its southern neighbor.

West’s diplomatic boycott of Olympics in China ‘a mistake’

Elsewhere in his remarks, Putin branded as a “mistake” and “unacceptable” the diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, scheduled to take place from February 4 to 20, by the US and its allies, saying it was driven by a desire to restrain China’s development.

“What are the prerequisites for it? Attempts to restrain the further development of China,” the Russian leader said, stressing that Washington cannot prevent China’s emergence as a global competitor by dragging politics into sports.

Canada, the , Australia, and New Zealand have already announced that they will join the US in a diplomatic boycott of the games, a move which Beijing has denounced as a betrayal of the Olympics’ core principles.

Source link:presstv

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