Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of attempting to drag his nation into a conflict in Ukraine. He stated that America’s purpose was to exploit the conflict as a pretext to put further sanctions on Russia.
Mr Putin also said that the US was disregarding Russia’s worries over Nato’s – the Western military alliance’s – European expansion.
The United States and its allies accuse Russia of plotting an invasion of Ukraine, something Russia has frequently denied.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted on Tuesday that the US was “committed to preventing a conflict that is in no one’s interest”
Meanwhile, the Spanish daily El Pais has published what it claims are private papers delivered by the US and Nato to Russia last week, including offers of negotiations on nuclear disarmament and trust-building measures in exchange for lowering tensions over Ukraine.
According to a Nato source, the alliance never comments on supposed leaks. According to the AFP news agency, President Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that Moscow was aware of the information but did not publish it and did not wish to comment on it.
In recent weeks, Russia has sent over 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s border, armed with everything from tanks and artillery to munitions and air power.
It comes eight years after Russia took Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula and sponsored a deadly uprising in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine.
Moscow, for its part, accuses the Ukrainian government of failing to carry out an international agreement to restore peace in the east, where at least 14,000 people have been dead and Russian-backed insurgents hold large swaths of land.
However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Tuesday that a Russian invasion would be “not be a war between Ukraine and Russia – this would be a war in Europe, a full-scale one”
Putin has not spoken publicly on the Ukraine crisis since December 23, creating mystery regarding his personal views despite several rounds of meetings between Russian and Western diplomats.
His Tuesday words mirrored a worldview in which Russia must protect itself against an aggressive and hostile US. According to Putin, Washington is more interested with limiting Russia than with the security of Ukraine.
“This can be done in different ways, by drawing us into some kind of armed conflict and, with the help of their allies in Europe, forcing the introduction against us of those harsh sanctions they are talking about now in the U.S.”
Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Tuesday and accused Putin of holding a gun to Ukraine’s head in order to demand changes to Europe’s security architecture.
“It is vital that Russia steps back and chooses a path of diplomacy,” Johnson added. “That, I suppose, is still a possibility. We are eager to engage in conversation, of course, but we are also prepared to impose sanctions, provide military support, and expand our economic cooperation.”
Any Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to Johnson, would be a military and humanitarian calamity.
Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish Prime Minister, who is also in Kyiv, said Poland will assist Ukraine with gas and weaponry supplies, as well as humanitarian and economic aid.
“Living close to a neighbour like Russia, we have the feeling of living at the foot of a volcano,” Morawiecki remarked.
Zelenskiy, who has previously dismissed the possibility of an invasion, has issued a directive to increase his armed forces by 100,000 men over the next three years. He advised lawmakers to maintain their composure and avoid hysteria.
“Not because we will soon have a war,” Zelenskiy explained, “but so that there will be peace in Ukraine soon and in the future.”