- At his annual end-of-year news conference on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to turn the tables on the West.
- Blaming the US and its allies for escalating tensions over Ukraine and suggesting that “the ball is in their court” to respond to Moscow’s demands.
Putin said it was up to the United States and NATO to provide the security guarantees Moscow demanded last week, despite his insistence that he does not want an armed conflict. “The ball is in their court,” Putin told the marathon’s over 500 Russian and foreign reporters. “They must respond to us in some way.”
Russia has massed 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, raising fears of an invasion as soon as next month, but it has repeatedly denied any intention of attacking its neighbor.
He said Washington appeared ready to begin negotiations on its proposals in Geneva early next year, though he doubts the US and its allies will provide the guarantees he seeks.
Moscow wants unconditional guarantees of security now and in the future, and it will not accept NATO’s eastward expansion to include Ukraine.
Putin offered an aggressively Russian view of history to back up his security concerns, claiming that Ukraine was “created” by Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet Union’s founder. He also accused NATO of “fooling” Russia with five waves of expansion since the Cold War and mocked the US for moving closer to Russia’s “doorstep,” adding that Moscow and the West sometimes appear to live in “different worlds.”
“You want guarantees from me,” Putin said. “You should provide guarantees.” “And right now, right now.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said this week that Washington was working with European allies to address “Russian aggression” through diplomacy, said President Joe Biden is opposed to the kind of guarantees sought by Putin.
In a virtual call this month, Biden warned Putin that if Russia attacked Ukraine, it would face “severe consequences.”
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, prompting international condemnation and sanctions. Soon after, Moscow backed a separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s east, where fighting has killed over 14,000 people and devastated the country’s industrial heartland.
Source: NBC News
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