Putin accuses US of trying to draw Russia into war over Ukraine
President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of deliberately designing a scenario to lure Russia into a war over Ukraine.
The Russian president said at a recent news conference in Moscow that the United States was trying to pull Russia into an armed conflict over the thorny issue of Ukraine. He said Washington was after using a confrontation as a pretext to impose more sanctions on Russia.
Putin described the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO as an existential threat to global peace. He said a Western-allied Ukraine strengthened with NATO’s weapons could launch a war against Russia to recapture Crimea, a territory annexed by Russia in 2014. “Let's imagine Ukraine is a NATO member and starts these military operations. Are we supposed to go to war with the NATO bloc? Has anyone given that any thought? Apparently not.”
“Ukraine is just an instrument of achieving this goal. It can be done in different ways, such as pulling us into some armed conflict and then forcing their allies in Europe to enact those harsh sanctions against us that are being discussed today in the United States.”
Russia and NATO have been at loggerheads over Ukraine. Western countries accuse Russia of planning an invasion of Ukraine amid a military buildup near the Ukrainian border. Moscow rejects the allegation and insists that the deployments are defensive in nature.
On Wednesday, the US Defense Department said it was deploying about 3,000 more troops to Eastern Europe. The US military has already placed 8,500 troops on heightened alert to prepare for deployment in Eastern Europe and bolster NATO’s presence in the region.
In December, the Russian government demanded that the Western military alliance deny Ukraine membership and roll back its military deployments in Eastern Europe. Moscow also demanded that the US not establish any military bases in the former Soviet states that are not part of NATO, and not form any bilateral military alliance with them. President Putin said then that Russia would take unspecified “military-technical” measures if the West did not meet its demands.