Moscow’s priority is to ensure security guarantees are reached with NATO to maintain peace, “not a confrontation,” Russian president Vladimir Putin said Monday, cautioning however that the admission of Ukraine into NATO would pose a security threat to Russia.
“In recent months, at the end of last year, we stepped up our efforts with our main partners in Washington and NATO to finally agree security measures and to ensure the peaceful development of our country. This is our priority, not a confrontation,” Putin said.
“But we must understand the reality we are living in, and I have said many times already that if Russia faces a threat like admitting Ukraine into NATO, then the threat against our country will be multiplied,” he added.
Speaking during a meeting of Russia’s Security Council in Moscow, Putin noted that “using Ukraine as a tool of confrontation against Russia is a serious and large threat” to Moscow.
“Russia has always tried to resolve all conflicts by peaceful means. Nevertheless, the Kyiv authorities conducted two punitive operations in these territories [Donetsk and Luhansk], and it seems that we are now witnessing an escalation for the third time,” Putin said.
It is not immediately clear what operations Putin was referring to.
Ukrainian officials have denied what has been described as "disinformation" and "deliberate provocations" by the Russian Federation.