Putin: Russia's Key Security Concerns Ignored by US, NATO
22:33 GMT 07.02.2022 (Updated: 23:56 GMT 07.02.2022)
MOSCOW, (Sputnik) - Russia's key concerns regarding security guarantees were ignored by the US and NATO, the open door policy is a rather free interpretation of the principle of equal and indivisible security that is needed exclusively by the United States and individual NATO members, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
At a press conference following the talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, he recalled that Russia's proposals on security guarantees contained three key points regarding prevention of further NATO expansion eastward, the alliance's refusal to deploy strike weapons systems near Russian borders and return of the bloc's military potential and infrastructure in Europe to the state of 1997 when the Russia-NATO Founding Act was signed.
"It is precisely these central concerns of ours that, unfortunately, turned out to be ignored in the responses received on January 26 from the United States and NATO. Moreover, Western partners once again referred to the fact that each state has the right to freely choose ways to ensure its security and enter into any military alliances and blocs. We, in fact, have never argued with this. True, these unions and alliances themselves have no obligation to accept everyone who wants it. This is also an obvious thing," Putin said.
Putin recalled that this principle, "as is known, includes the obligation not to strengthen one's security at the expense of the security of other states."
"I would also like to note that they are still trying to reassure Russia with arguments that NATO is a peaceful and purely defensive organization, a purely defensive alliance. Citizens of many states have seen from their own experience how true this is," he said.
Putin said that Russia was designated as an adversary in NATO's military strategy.
"Among other things, we cannot ignore this: in the 2019 NATO military strategy, Russia is directly named the main security threat and adversary. NATO designated us as an adversary," Putin said.
Russia strongly opposes the expansion of NATO by adding new members in the East, and it is illogical to say that Russia is acting aggressively, he said.
"We strongly oppose the expansion of NATO by adding new members in the East, because this poses a common threat to us — further expansion of NATO to our borders, we are not moving toward NATO, but NATO is moving toward us. Therefore, saying that Russia is aggressive at least does not correspond to common sense."
Europe Can Be Drawn Into War If Ukraine Tries to Return Crimea as NATO Member
If Ukraine joins NATO and tries to return Crimea, then European countries would automatically be drawn into a war in which there would be no winners; for its part, Moscow will do everything to find compromises that suit everyone, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"I want to emphasize this again, I said, but I would really like you to finally hear me and convey this to your readers, viewers and users on the Internet. Well, do you understand or not that if Ukraine joins NATO and tries to return Crimea by military means, European countries will automatically be drawn into a military conflict with Russia?"
Russia will not allow Ukraine to attempt to return Crimea by military means, Putin stressed.
Putin noted that the military potential of NATO and Russia was, however, incomparable.
"We understand this. But we also understand that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers. And in some components, in modern times, we are even ahead of many others. There will be no winners. And you will find yourself drawn into this conflict against your will. You won't even have time to blink, when you will comply with Article 5 of the Treaty of Rome. Mr. President, of course, does not want this development. And I do not want it either. That is why he is here and has been tormenting me for six hours in a row with questions, guarantees, options for solutions," Putin said.
NATO Trying to Lecture Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that NATO was trying to lecture Russia.
"Moreover, having moved their military infrastructure close to our borders, NATO and its member states consider themselves entitled to lecture us a little bit about where and how to place our armed forces, and consider it possible to demand not to conduct the planned maneuvers and exercises."
The movement of Russian troops on its own territory is presented as a threat of a Russian invasion, "in this case, into Ukraine," Putin noted.
President Putin also noted that NATO members continued to pump Ukraine with weapons, and that this issue was discussed with French President Emmanuel Macron.
"NATO member countries continue to pump up Ukraine with modern types of weapons, allocate significant financial resources for the modernization of the Ukrainian army. They send military specialists and instructors."
Kiev ignores all possibilities for a peaceful settlement of the situation in Donbas, Putin said, adding that he drew Macron's attention to Kiev's refusal to comply with the Minsk agreements.
"Of course, for my part, I drew Mr. President's attention to the unwillingness of the current Kiev authorities to comply with the obligations under the Minsk package of measures and agreements in the Normandy format, including those reached at the summits," Putin said.
"In my opinion, it is obvious to everyone that the current authorities in Kiev have set a course to dismantle the Minsk agreements. There is no progress on such fundamental issues as constitutional reform, amnesty, local elections, legal aspects of the special status of Donbas. The well-known — at least for experts — Steinmeier formula is still not enshrined in the Ukrainian legislation."
Putin expressed hope that Macron would discuss in Kiev issues raised on Monday during the Russian-French talks.
A number of Macron's ideas can well be used as the basis for further steps on Ukraine, Putin said.
Putin believes that Macron "will have a hard time" in negotiations with the leadership of Ukraine on Tuesday in Kiev.
"This is a complex set [of questions], that's why we talked for so many hours, and tomorrow, to Mr. President, I understand that there are no easy questions there, he will have a hard time in Kiev either. But we agreed that after consultations, we will also get in touch with the leadership of Ukraine and get some kind of feedback on what the Ukrainian leadership today considers acceptable for itself, what is unacceptable, how it is going to move. And depending on this, we will build our own steps further."
Putin said that after Macron's visit to Kiev, they would still call each other.
On Tuesday, Macron plans to visit Kiev for a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Macron: New Mechanisms Needed to Ensure Stability in Europe
French President Emmanuel Macron said new mechanisms should be worked out to ensure stability on the European continent, but not at the expense of the existing ones.
“It is imperative to develop new mechanisms that would ensure stability in the region, but these new mechanisms must not be built by redrawing the agreements of the past 30 years and by revising fundamental principles or imposing limitations on basic European rights."
The Minsk agreements remain the basis for resolving the situation around Ukraine, Macron said.
The talks between the presidents of Russia and France lasted a little over five hours.