Putin reflects on options if West refuses Ukraine security demands
MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that he would consider a multitude of options if the West fails to meet its demand for security guarantees that prevent NATO expansion in Ukraine.
Earlier this month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO refuse membership to Ukraine and other countries of the former USSR and cancel its military deployments in central Europe and eastern.
The Kremlin has presented its demand for security amid tensions over the build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine in recent weeks, which has fueled Western fears of a possible invasion. US President Joe Biden warned Putin in a video call earlier this month that Russia would face “serious consequences” if it attacked Ukraine.
Russia has denied its intention to launch an invasion and, in turn, accused Ukraine of drawing up plans to attempt to take back control of territory held by Moscow-backed rebels by force. Ukraine rejected the request.
Putin urged the West to act quickly to respond to his demands, warning that Moscow will have to take “adequate military-technical measures” if the West continues its “aggressive” run “on our doorstep.”
Asked to clarify what Moscow’s response could be, he said in comments broadcast on Sunday by Russian state television that “it could be diverse”, adding that “it will depend on the proposals that our military experts submit to me”.
The United States and its allies have refused to offer Russia the kind of guarantee on Ukraine Putin wants, citing NATO’s principle that membership is open to any eligible country. They agreed. however, to launch security talks with Russia next month to discuss its concerns.
Putin said talks with the United States will be held in Geneva. At the same time, negotiations are also expected to take place between Russia and NATO and broader discussions are expected under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
In remarks released on Sunday, Putin said Russia had submitted its demands in the hope of a constructive response from the West.
“We did not do it simply to see it blocked … but in order to achieve a negotiated diplomatic result that would be set out in legally binding documents,” Putin said.
He reiterated that NATO membership for Ukraine or the deployment of alliance weapons there is a red line for Moscow that it would not allow the West to cross.
“We have nowhere to retreat,” he said, adding that NATO could deploy missiles in Ukraine that would only take four or five minutes to reach Moscow. âThey pushed us to a line that we cannot cross. They pushed it to the point where we just have to tell them; ‘Stop!'”
He expressed concern that the United States and its allies might try to drag out the security talks and use them as a cover to continue military build-up near Russia.
He noted that Russia has released its security demands to publicize them and increase pressure on the United States and its allies to negotiate a security deal.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in remarks released on Sunday that NATO’s expansion into Ukraine or other countries of the former Soviet Union is “a matter of life and death for we “.
He noted that Friday’s test firing of Russia’s hypersonic Zircon missiles would help make Russian pressure for security guarantees “more convincing.”
Friday’s launches were the latest in a series of tests for Zircon, which Putin says is capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound for a distance of more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). It was the first time that Zircon missiles had been fired in a salvo, indicating the completion of tests before the new missile entered service with the Russian Navy next year and armed its cruisers, frigates and sub -marines.
Peskov also highlighted Putin’s earlier warning on Sunday that a Ukrainian offensive against rebel-held territories would have “serious consequences” for Ukraine’s statehood, adding that “they know it well in Kiev. and they know it well in Washington “.
Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula from Crimea in 2014 and soon after lent its support to a separatist rebellion in the east of the country. For more than seven years, fighting left more than 14,000 dead and devastated the industrial heart of Ukraine, known as Donbass.