Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Thursday to act quickly to meet Russia’s demand for security guarantees excluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine and the deployment of the military alliance’s weapons there.
Speaking during a four-hour annual news conference, Putin welcomed talks with the U.S. that are scheduled to begin in Geneva next month but warned the discussion focused on Moscow’s demand needs to produce swift results.
“We want to ensure our security,” Putin said. “We put it straight: there must be no further expansion of NATO eastward.”
Last week, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and cut back the alliance’s military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.
An important principle of the NATO alliance is that membership is available to any qualifying country. The U.S. and its allies have said they won’t give Russia the kind of guarantee on Ukraine that Putin is demanding. American officials are talking with European allies in advance of the Geneva talks.
Moscow presented its demand amid growing tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has added to fears of a possible invasion. U.S. President Joe Biden warned Putin earlier this month that Russia will face “severe consequences” if it attacks Ukraine.
During his annual news conference, Putin accused the West of trying to make Ukraine “anti-Russia, constantly beefed up with modern weapons and brainwashing the population.”
Putin has denied having plans to launch an attack but has described a NATO expansion and weapons deployment in Ukraine as a “red line.”