Putin Says Russia to Keep U.S., Allies on Edge Over Ukraine
President Vladimir Putin said Russia has succeeded in raising the specter of a threat over Ukraine and must keep the U.S. and its allies on edge, sending a defiant signal as the West tries to push him to back down.
“Our recent warnings have been noticed and had an effect. A certain tension has appeared there,” Putin said in a speech to diplomats at the Foreign Ministry Thursday. “We need for this condition to remain as long as possible, so nobody gets it into their head to cause a conflict we don’t need on our western borders.”
The U.S. has in recent weeks warned its European allies that Russia may be planning a repeat of its 2014 invasion of Ukraine, citing a fresh buildup of tanks and troops on the border. The Kremlin denies any aggressive intentions. “We don’t need conflicts,” Putin said.
The sudden escalation in tensions surrounding Ukraine comes as Russia has clashed with Europe over energy supplies and migrants trying to enter the European Union from Belarus, Russia’s closest ally.
Accusing the U.S. and its allies of failing to take Russia’s “red lines” seriously, Putin said Russia needs to get “serious, long-term security guarantees in this direction.” He said North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries are provoking more tensions by supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine and staging military activity close to Russia’s borders.
The Russian leader accused NATO last month of threatening Russia with a military expansion into Ukraine. On Saturday, Putin said the U.S. and NATO are waging a pressure campaign against him with naval drills in the Black Sea and support for drone strikes in the conflict zone.
Russia last conducted a major buildup near Ukraine in the spring, drawing warnings from the West. The Kremlin announced a pullback after U.S. President Joe Biden called Putin and agreed to a summit meeting, which took place in June.
The Geneva summit opened the door for dialog but U.S.-Russia relations are still in an “unsatisfactory” state, Putin said.
The Russian president also accused Western countries of using the crisis over migrants stranded between Belarus and the EU’s eastern frontier as a means of pressure against the government in Minsk.
Belarus has taken some steps to de-escalate the stand-off after warnings of fresh sanctions amid EU accusations that it artificially created the crisis by granting visas to Middle Eastern migrants. Authoritarian Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who’s been an international pariah since his contested re-election and brutal crackdown on protests last year, spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the second time this week on Wednesday about a resolution.
Russia will continue its course toward tighter integration with Belarus, said Putin, issuing an unusual warning to his sometimes troublesome ally with a call for dialog between the authorities and the opposition.
By Henry Meyer and Ilya Arkhipov