Putin: No expansion of NATO to the east is permissible, while the Americans brazenly lied to us

Russian President Vladimir Putin vehemently rejected NATO’s eastward expansion, accusing Westerners of hatred, lying and harassment of his country to the point that they “reached our doorstep”.

During his annual press conference on Thursday, Putin said, “The Americans brazenly lied to us and expanded NATO eastward toward our western borders in 5 stages.”

Putin also said, “No eastward expansion of NATO is permissible.” He added that the West is exploiting Ukraine to put pressure on his country and place its missiles on its borders.

He reminded the Westerners that the Soviet Union was made by Ukraine, and that it was part of the axis of Russian influence and could not include military bases for the West.

The Russian president did not rule out that Ukraine would launch a new military operation in the Donbass against the pro-Moscow militants, and said, “We must be ready for it.”

Security guarantees

Despite his anger over the Western role in Ukraine, Putin said that his country had initially received a positive reaction from Washington regarding security guarantees, and “we will start negotiations soon.”

Last week, Russia presented draft proposals to the United States and NATO, summarizing its demands in exchange for de-escalating tensions over the former Soviet republic’s Ukraine.

These proposals say that NATO should not accept new members of the military alliance, and call for the establishment of military bases in the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Putin stressed that “the Minsk agreement is the only alternative to resolving the dispute with Ukraine, and the Kiev authorities do not want that.”

Putin’s annual press conference comes at the height of a confrontation with Washington, and the West’s concern that Moscow may invade Ukraine.

The Russian president responded to the questions of local and international media correspondents regarding the political and military crisis that shakes the European security balance stemming from the Cold War.

Putin wants to end the military support provided by NATO and Washington to Ukraine, prevent any expansion of this alliance, and end all Western military activities near his country’s borders.

Washington says tens of thousands of Russian soldiers are deployed near the border with Ukraine, as well as in Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

But the Kremlin denies any intention to start a conflict. On the contrary, it accuses the Americans and their allies of threatening the country by providing political-military support to Kiev and deploying their forces in the Black Sea.

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