May 22, 2022

Putin ‘hopes for solution’ but says West ignored Russian ‘concerns’

Vladimir Putin judged « clair » mardi 1is February that the United States and NATO chose to ignore ” the preoccupations “ of Russia for its security, in view of the rejection of Russian demands by the American side in the context of their face-to-face on Ukraine.

The Russian President, who was speaking after a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, listed the main Russian demands: the end of NATO’s enlargement policy, the commitment not to deploy offensive weapons near the Russian borders and the withdrawal of the Alliance’s military positions on the 1997 borders, that is to say before the organization welcomed ex-members of the Soviet bloc.

“Ignoring our concerns, the United States and NATO point to the right of each state to freely choose how it wants to guarantee its security”, noted Mr. Putin, hammering however that another principle provides that “No one should increase their security at the expense of others”.

“I hope that we will finally find a solution, even if it is not easy”, he said again, after having estimated that “The main objective of the United States is the containment of Russia, (…) Ukraine is an instrument to drag us into an armed conflict, and hit us with the harshest sanctions”.

Read the story: Article reserved for our subscribers War of nerves in Ukraine, under the Russian threat

No indication of “a change in the next few days”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) are due to speak on the phone on Tuesday.

Mr. Putin had not spoken on the merits of diplomatic efforts on the Russian-Western crisis around Ukraine for several weeks. For their part, Antony Blinken and Sergei Lavrov, the heads of American and Russian diplomacy, spoke on the telephone during the day.

M. Blinken a “urged Russia to immediately de-escalate and withdraw troops and equipment to Ukraine’s border”, the US State Department said after the phone call with Mr. Lavrov. He also has “urged Russia to take the diplomatic route” rather than conflict.

“The Secretary of State underscored the willingness of the United States, bilaterally and with our allies and partners, to continue a substantive exchange with Russia on mutual security concerns.. He pointed out that a new invasion of Ukraine would bring swift and severe consequences. »

A US official later admitted that Mr. Lavrov had only provided “no indication” of one “change in the next few days” on the Russian-Ukrainian border, where Westerners accuse Moscow of having amassed more than 100,000 soldiers for a possible invasion of the neighboring country. The head of Russian diplomacy for his part said that his American counterpart had recognized that there were reasons to discuss Russia’s concerns for its security.

Western diplomatic and military support

This conversation is the first between the two rival powers since the United States and NATO submitted last week to Moscow their written response to the demands formulated, also in writing, in mid-December by the Kremlin. Russia demanded in particular the legal guarantee that Ukraine and other countries on its doorstep would never enter the Atlantic Alliance.

The United States accuses Russia of planning an invasion of Ukraine, a country already torn apart by a civil war in the east between forces in Kiev and pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow. To deter Moscow from any aggression, the West has accelerated its preparations for economic sanctions. The United States like the United Kingdom, which is one of the favorite investment grounds of the great Russian fortunes, thus affirmed, Monday, to want to strike at the portfolio of the relatives of the Kremlin.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Ukraine crisis: the United States undertakes to respond to Russia in writing

On the London side, the Russian oligarchs are threatened with seeing their assets frozen and their entry into British territory refused. Companies or individuals in the UK may also no longer be able to transact with them.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki were also expected in Kiev on Tuesday to show their solidarity. Other European officials are announced in the coming days.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday welcomed this Western diplomatic and military support for Moscow, ” The most important “, according to him, since 2014, the year of the last Russian offensive against his country. According to Ukraine, the Russian threat is obvious, but it considers it less imminent than the Americans, so Mr. Zelensky asked his allies not to destabilize the country by sowing ” panic “.

“Creating Hysteria”

Vladimir Putin’s statements and the telephone exchange between Sergei Lavrov and Anthony Blinken came the day after heated debates in the UN Security Council. During this meeting, the Russian ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, accused Washington of seeking to “creating hysteria” and to “mislead the international community” with its “unfounded accusations”.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Ukraine crisis: diplomatic deadlock at the UN Security Council

His American counterpart, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, estimated that the deployment of more than 100,000 Russian soldiers around Ukraine threatened “international security”. Ensuring to hold “evidence”, she accused Moscow of wanting to deploy more than 30,000 additional soldiers in early February in Belarus, an ally of the Kremlin and neighbor of Ukraine. The United States has ordered, in this context, the families of US government employees stationed in Belarus to leave.

On the military front, movements also continue. Several Western countries have announced in recent days the dispatch of new contingents to Eastern Europe. Finally, Ukraine said on Tuesday that it had received around 500 tons of ammunition and military equipment from the United States.

Also listen Should we fear a Russian invasion in Ukraine?

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters