The US says Russia should back off troops, ‘Should we go to war with NATO?’ Asks Putin. Moscow wants the West to respect the 1999 security constitution.
KYIV / MOSCOW, Feb 1 – Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Western nations on Tuesday for deliberately creating a climate conducive to war and ignoring Russia’s security concerns about Ukraine.
In his first public statement on the issue for about six weeks, Putin’s contempt showed no signs of slowing down in the security demands the West has called for starters and excuses for launching an attack, which Moscow denies.
“It is clear now … that Russia’s significant concerns have not been ignored,” Putin told a news conference with Hungary’s prime minister, one of the few NATO leaders trying to intervene as the crisis intensified.
(Do not miss: How Ukrainian troops interacted with Russians)
Putin described a possible future situation in which Ukraine was accepted into NATO and tried to recapture the Crimean peninsula, an area occupied by Russia in 2014.
“Let’s imagine that Ukraine is a member of NATO and starts these military operations. Should we go to war with the NATO bloc? Has anyone ever thought of that? Obviously not,” he said.
Russia has assembled more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and Western countries say they fear Putin might plan an attack.
Russia has denied the allegations in a statement issued Friday stating “Similar, baseless allegations concerning Russia’s intelligence have been made more than once in Russia. Western countries say any attack will bring sanctions to Moscow.
The Kremlin wants the Western world to respect the 1999 agreement that no country can strengthen its security by paying for others, which it also sees as the root of the problem, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
He raised the charter signed in Istanbul by members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes the United States and Canada, during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Lavrov said Blinken had accepted the need to continue discussing the issue while the US account for the phone focused on the need for Moscow to back off.
“If President Putin does not really intend to fight a war or a coup, the Secretary-General will tell Foreign Minister Lavrov that this is the time to withdraw troops and heavy weapons and negotiate hard,” a State Department official told reporters.
The US is set to discuss giving the Kremlin a way to ensure the absence of Tomahawk cruise missiles from NATO bases in Romania and Poland, if Russia shares similar information about arrows on certain Russian bases, Bloomberg reports.
The White House and the Ministry of State did not immediately respond to requests for comment but a source familiar with the situation said the United States was willing to have discussions on Russian concerns, such as arms control issues in the appropriate courts.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of their talks in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 1, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential News Service / Handout via REUTERS
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference following talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Moscow, Russia on February 1, 2022. Yuri Kochetkov / Lake by REUTERS
Members of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces service attend a military training event in the state of Lviv, Ukraine, pictured on February 1, 2022. Ukrainian Air Assault Forces / Handout media service via REUTERS
Putin had not spoken publicly about the Ukraine crisis since December 23, leaving ambiguity about his position while Russian and Western strategists took part in repeated talks.
His remarks on Tuesday echoed the sentiments of a world in which Russia needs to defend itself against a hostile and hostile United States. Washington is not so concerned about Ukrainian security, but about Russia, Putin said.
“In this sense, Ukraine itself is just a tool to achieve this goal,” he said.
“This can be done in a variety of ways, by dragging us into some kind of war and, with the help of their European allies, forcing them to be introduced against us by the harsh punishments they are now talking about in the U.S.
The Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, who has been at loggerheads with Western European leaders over the issue of democracy in his country, said he believed that after talks with Putin there was a consensus.
“I have become convinced today that the current conflict of interest can be resolved and I can sign an agreement that will ensure peace, ensure the security of Russia and that is acceptable to NATO member states,” Orban said.
A GUN IN THE HEAD OF UKRAINE
As Western countries rush to show solidarity with Ukraine, the US has urged Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to cancel his visit with Putin to Russia, a source told Reuters.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv and accused Putin of carrying a Ukrainian gun in his head to demand changes in the security structure in Europe.
“It is important that Russia backslides and chooses a negotiated approach,” Johnson said. “And I believe that is still possible. We are determined to negotiate, of course, but sanctions are in place, providing military assistance and strengthening our economic cooperation.”
Johnson said any Russian invasion of Ukraine would lead to military and humanitarian catastrophe.
“There are 200,000 men and women under arms in Ukraine, they will be very resilient, very aggressive and bloody,” he said. “I think Russian parents and mothers should think about that fact and I really hope that