Vladimir Putin says ‘we are not threatening anybody’
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Mr Putin, addressing his annual press conference, said that the West should provide “unconditional security” guarantees amid escalating tensions over Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border. Mr Putin repeated his denial of Russia’s intentions to invade Ukraine as early as the beginning of next year, adding that the US had missiles at “Russia’s doorstep”.
Mr Putin, speaking in Russian, said: “This is not our choice, we do not want this.
“We have to think about ensuring our security prospects not just for today and next week but for the near future.”
“We just directly posed the question that there should be no further NATO movement to the east, the ball is in their court, they should answer us with something.
“In this regard, I would like to stress that on the whole we have seen a positive reaction so far, our American partners tell us that they are ready to start this discussion.”
On Tuesday, Mr Putin said that Russia would be forced into a tougher response over the standoff with the United States over Ukraine, unless the West backtracked on its “aggressive line”.
He spoke to military officials as Russia urged the US and NATO to acknowledge the demands made by Russia last week.
Russia demanded legal agreements from the West over security near its borders, saying that the Western powers should pledge not to advance NATO activity further towards Eastern Europe.
Mr Putin said: “What the U.S. is doing in Ukraine is at our doorstep…
“They should understand that we have nowhere further to retreat to.
“Do they think we’ll just watch idly?”
“If the aggressive line of our Western colleagues continues, we will take adequate military-technical response measures and react harshly to unfriendly steps.”
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, dismissed the possibility of an in-person summit between President Biden and Mr Putin in the near future.
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When asked if it would ease escalating tensions, Mr Blinken said: “I think we have to see if, in the first instance, there’s any progress diplomatically.”
Karen Donfried, the U.S. State Department’s top diplomat for Europe, told reporters that the US was willing to negotiate with Russia in various forms.
She said, however, that until a consensus was agreed, the US would continue to send military supplies and assistance to Ukraine.
She stated: “As President (Joe) Biden has told President Putin, should Russia further invade Ukraine, we will provide additional defensive materials to the Ukrainians above and beyond that which we are already in the process of providing.”
Earlier in December, Mr Biden warned Mr Putin of “strong economic and other measures” which the US could take against Russia if they escalated their activity against Ukraine.
In a video call between the two leaders, President Putin accused Ukraine of provocation, and asked Mr Biden for guarantees that the West would not venture further eastward.
Intelligence reports suggest more than 90,0000 Russian troops have been stationed near the Russian border with Ukraine.
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