Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of “putting his missiles on our doorstep.” He did so today during his annual year-end press conference in Moscow.
The session lasted exactly four hours, and everyone was particularly looking forward to what Putin had to say about the situation around Ukraine. Tens of thousands of Russian troops have been marching along the border with the neighbouring country for weeks. The West fears a Russian invasion.
Putin said he does not want war with Ukraine. But he also finds it unacceptable if the former Soviet republic joins NATO, he stated in unprecedentedly harsh and sometimes emotional rhetoric. “We have made it clear that the relocation of NATO to the east is unacceptable,” Putin said. “The United States is at our door with missiles. Is it an excessive requirement not to do that in our home? How would the Americans react if missiles were placed on the borders with Canada or Mexico?”
Putin did little to ease tensions over Ukraine. He stated that he would be ready to intervene if he felt that Ukraine was preparing an attack on the pro-Russian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the country. He also stated that it is no longer possible to talk with the current regime in Kyiv, something Putin has not been doing for months anyway.
The expansion of NATO since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 has been a central theme for Putin, which has recurred time and again today. “They weren’t going to expand, but they did. We are cheated! They just cheated; there have been five waves of NATO expansion,” Putin fulminated. , Do you want guarantees from us? It would help if you gave us a guarantee. Immediately. And now. And don’t talk about it for decades.”
Last week, Moscow published a list of demands on NATO. Ukraine is not allowed by the Kremlin, nor are the other former Soviet republics. NATO is also not allowed to develop activities in those countries. In addition, Russia wants to have control over the supply of NATO troops to Eastern European countries such as Poland and the Baltic states. The European Union has already announced that it will not accept Russia’s demand for admission to Ukraine.
Putin indicated that progress is being made with the United States to discuss Russia’s security requirements as a bright spot. “The US partners have told us that they are ready to start this discussion in Geneva at the very beginning of next year,” the Russian president said.