"It is, in essence, […] not an army anymore but a foreign legion, a NATO-controlled foreign legion, which is not serving to protect Ukraine's national interests," Putin said at a meeting with university students in St. Petersburg.
"They are pursuing other goals linked with attaining geopolitical goals of deterring Russia contrary to the interests of the Ukrainian people," Putin said.
Despite Kiev's aspirations to form part of the alliance, NATO officials have repeatedly stressed that the country needs to implement a wide range of reforms before pursuing bloc membership.
In December, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said that Ukraine’s accession to NATO would bring Russia’s relations with the bloc to a complete collapse.
Commenting on the Ukraine crisis, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Monday that Washington had "more tools" to increase pressure on Moscow.
Kiev is refusing to search for peaceful solution in eastern Ukraine standoff and have used a brief ceasefire to regroup its forces, the Russian president said.
"Unfortunately, the Kiev authorities refuse to chose a peaceful path [in the Ukrainian conflict] through the use of political means," Putin said.
"They used a brief ceasefire only to regroup their forces, and started military operation again," the president said.
Many in Ukraine have already realized that the country is caught in a civil war that had taken lives of thousands of people.
"Every time an American official comes to Ukraine they start the attacks again," George Eliason, American Journalist who currently lives in Donbass region told Sputnik. "Ukraine is destroying the cities, cleansing them – for no purpose. Every time an American official comes to Ukraine they start the attacks again."
- Yes, I think it is a matter of balance of power.17.8% (454)
- No, I believe the countries will return to a constructive dialogue.6.8% (174)
- I don’t think the situation should be viewed in that context.9.9% (254)
- I think the new Cold War is already on.65.5% (1674)
The fighting between government forces and independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine's Donbas region has intensified in recent weeks, driving up the civilian death toll. On January 13, the shelling of a bus in the Donetsk Region town of Volnovakha killed 13 civilians. Last week, at least eight Donetsk residents were killed by rocket fire while waiting at a transit stop for a trolleybus.
Mariupol, a major southeastern Ukraine port city, came under fire on January 24, leaving 30 people dead and over 90 wounded, according to Ukrainian authorities. Kiev and pro-independence forces are blaming each other for the killings.