Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the U.S. and its allies over “tensions that are building up in Europe” and demanded guarantees that NATO will not expand eastwards.
Putin’s comments came as part of a speech at a meeting with Russia’s top military officials days after Moscow submitted documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries.
The demands come amid rising tensions over a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine that has sparked fears of a possible invasion.
According to the Associated Press, “Russia has denied it has plans to attack its neighbor but pressed for legal guarantees that would rule out NATO expansion and weapons deployment there.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. is working with its European allies to address “Russian aggression” diplomatically, but President Joe Biden opposes the guarantees that Putin seeks.
“The president has been extremely clear for many, many years about some basic principles that no one is moving back on: the principle that one country does not have the right to change by force the borders of another, that one country does not have the right to dictate the policies of another or to tell that that country with whom they may associate,” Blinken said.
“One country does not have the right to exert a sphere of influence. That notion should be relegated to the dustbin of history.”
Putin said that NATO’s expanded eastward for decades while saying that Russia had no reason to worry.
“What is happening now, tensions that are building up in Europe, is [U.S. and NATO’s] fault every step of the way,” Putin said.
“Russia has been forced to respond at every step. The situation kept worsening and worsening, deteriorating and deteriorating. And here we are today, in a situation when we’re forced to resolve it somehow.”
Photo by G20 Argentina is licensed under CC BY 2.0