Putin Praises U.S. Response to Security Ideas as ‘Positive’
(Bloomberg) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin praised what he described as a “positive” U.S. response to the Kremlin’s demands for legally binding security guarantees to defuse a stand-off over Ukraine and said talks between the two countries are to start in January.
“On the whole, we see a positive response,” Putin said at his annual press conference on Thursday. “Our American partners say they’re ready to start discussions early next year in Geneva. Both sides have named representatives and I hope that things will continue along the same path.”
Putin made no mention of the threat of military action as he did earlier this week but said the Kremlin will do what it needs to ensure Russia’s security. He hit out against the successive waves of North Atlantic Treaty Organization expansion up to Russia’s borders. “Do we put our missiles close to U.S. borders?” he asked. “No! It’s the U.S. which has come to our house with its missiles, they’re on our doorstep already!”
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Putin said opponents have for centuries sought to pressure Russia, undermining the country from within and breaking up her territories. “In 1991, we split up into 12. But we get the impression that isn’t enough for our partners - Russia’s too big for them.”
He declined to provide a guarantee that Russia won’t invade Ukraine, instead demanding the West give the Kremlin the security assurances he seeks “now.”
The U.S. has said it’s ready to hold talks starting in January on two draft security treaties that Russia published last week, though it’s called some of the Kremlin’s proposals unacceptable. Russia has demanded that NATO commit not to expand further east and pull out all forces from former Soviet bloc eastern European states that began joining the alliance in 1997.
A massive Russian military build-up near Ukraine has provoked concerns of a potential attack. American intelligence shared with European allies in November showed Russia may be planning an invasion as soon as next month involving as many as 175,000.
Putin’s press conference, which lasted almost four hours and was attended by 500 journalists, covered topics from inflation and incomes to Santa Claus and rail service.
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