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Putin Says US and Allies are Ignoring Russian Security Needs

Putin Says US and Allies are Ignoring Russian Security Needs
Source: CNN

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the United States and its allies of neglecting Russia’s main security needs, but said Moscow is eager to discuss more about the Ukraine crisis.

His remarks, his first on the stalemate in almost a month, hinted that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was unlikely and that at least one more round of talks was probable.

Nonetheless, the two sides have remained staunch in their fundamental views, and there appeared to be little chance for compromises. After Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speak, Russia is likely to reply quickly to a US proposal for negotiations on smaller Russian requests.

Lavrov and Blinken talked on Tuesday, reiterating Putin’s and President Joe Biden’s stances. Biden and Putin might possibly speak when the US hears Russia’s response, according to the White House.

Putin said the Kremlin is still reviewing the US and NATO responses to Russian security requests received last week at a Moscow press conference with the visiting leader of NATO partner Hungary. However, he stated that the West has clearly disregarded Russian requests that NATO not extend to Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, abstain from placing offensive weapons near Russia, and reduce its deployments in Eastern Europe.

Putin emphasized that if all parties’ interests, including Russia’s security concerns, are considered, a resolution to the crisis may be reached. “I hope that we will finally find a solution,” Putin added, “but we recognize that it will not be simple.”

Russian military have stockpiled over 100,000 troops around Ukraine’s border, raising concerns of an invasion. It has said that it has no plans to attack.

The fundamental requests of Moscow have been rejected by Washington and its allies. They stress that Ukraine, like any other country, has the right to select its allies, despite the fact that it is currently not a member of NATO and is unlikely to join anytime soon.

Putin said that the Western partners’ failure to satisfy Russia’s requests is a violation of their commitments to all nations’ security integrity. He warned that if Ukraine joins NATO, it might be forced to undertake military action to recover control of Russian-annexed Crimea or territories in Ukraine’s east controlled by Russia-backed rebels.

“Imagine Ukraine joining NATO and initiating those military actions,” Putin warned. “Should we then fight NATO?” “Has anyone considered it?”

Following the removal of Ukraine’s Moscow-friendly president in 2014, Russia grabbed the Crimean Peninsula and then backed separatists in the country’s eastern industrial heartland, sparking a conflict that has killed over 14,000 people.

While the US expresses worry about Ukraine’s security, Putin claims that the US is using the ex-Soviet republic as a “instrument” in its efforts to restrict Russia.

He said that Washington may try to “pull us into a military battle and push its European partners to implement the punitive sanctions that the US is discussing today.” Another alternative, according to Putin, is to “bring Ukraine into NATO, put offensive weaponry there,” and urge Ukrainian nationalists to use force to recover the rebel-held east or Crimea, therefore “pulling us into a military battle.”

Putin said during meetings with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, who has built closer connections with Moscow than virtually any other NATO member, that a deal may still be reached that addresses all parties’ interests.

“We must find a solution to protect the interests and security of all parties, including Ukraine, European states, and Russia,” Putin said, underlining the need of the West taking Russian suggestions seriously if progress is to be made.

Following their chat on Monday, he suggested French President Emmanuel Macron may visit Moscow shortly as part of fresh diplomatic efforts.

In an attempt to put pressure on the West, Lavrov wrote letters to the US and other Western allies, reminding them of prior responsibilities agreed by all members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a leading trans-Atlantic security organization.

Russia has contended that NATO’s eastward expansion has harmed its security, breaking the OSCE’s “indivisibility of security” concept, which was adopted in 1999 and 2010. It claims that the US and its allies have disregarded the notion that one nation’s security should not be bolstered at the expense of others, while insisting on each country’s freedom to pick its allies.

“There must be security for everyone or there will be no security for anybody,” Lavrov said in his letter, which was provided by the foreign ministry. In his talk with Blinken, Lavrov also stated that Moscow will not allow the US to “hush up” the problem.

Meanwhile, Blinken highlighted “the United States’ desire to maintain a constructive engagement with Russia on common security challenges, bilaterally and in collaboration with Allies and partners.” Blinken, on the other hand, was adamant about “the US commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the freedom of all countries to decide their own foreign policy and alliances,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Price quoted Blinken as saying that he “urged quick Russian de-escalation and the removal of Russian soldiers and equipment from Ukraine’s borders.” He reiterated that “future invasions of Ukraine will be met with fast and serious repercussions,” and encouraged Russia to choose a diplomatic approach.

Senior State Department sources described the discussion as professional and “pretty honest,” adding that Russia should withdraw its soldiers from the border and neighboring Belarus if it wants to show it isn’t planning an invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken organized a conference call with the NATO secretary general, the EU foreign policy leader, and the OSCE chairman-in-office shortly after meeting with Lavrov, as part of steps to guarantee that the allies are involved in any future discussions with Russia.

Russia’s UN envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, told reporters at the UN that the US remark about its openness for discussion “doesn’t connect” with Washington delivering planeloads of military weapons to Ukraine.

“I don’t understand why the United States is raising tensions while simultaneously criticizing Russia,” he added.

Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, paid a visit to Kyiv for meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The United Kingdom, according to Johnson, has a package of penalties ready to go “the moment the first Russian toecap crosses farther into Ukrainian land.”

“It’s critical that Russia takes a step back and picks a diplomatic approach, which I believe is still achievable,” Johnson said. “Of course, we are eager to participate in discourse. However, we are prepared to impose fines.”

He claimed he’d phone Putin on Wednesday and that the Russian leader was attempting to “impose a new Yalta, new zones of influence,” referring to the 1945 Allied Powers Agreement. “And it wouldn’t just be Ukraine,” Johnson warned, “that would be brought back into the Russian sphere of influence.”

According to a US person familiar with the decision, Biden was set to propose career foreign service officer Bridget Brink to fill the long-vacant diplomatic post of American ambassador to Ukraine. Brink is the ambassador to Slovakia at the moment.