Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the main reason for Russia’s attack on Ukraine was the expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe. He said that NATO was expanding its presence in the region and that Russia had attempted to discuss the issue with the West, but the West had not listened.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the eastward expansion of NATO at the expense of the post-Soviet republics endless and very dangerous. He said this at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday, February 14.
“The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will present its views on the responses we received to our proposals sent to American colleagues in Washington and colleagues from the North Atlantic Alliance in Brussels regarding the organization of security issues in Europe and the response to our concerns related to the endless, in our opinion, and a very dangerous eastward expansion of NATO. Now at the expense of the former republics of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine,” Putin said.
In mid-December, Russia submitted its proposals for a European security architecture to the United States and NATO. Among the three main steps that Moscow called for were preventing the alliance from expanding eastward, including Ukraine and Georgia, refusing to deploy strike weapons systems near Russian borders, and returning the bloc’s military infrastructure in Europe to the state of 1997 when it was signed the fundamental act of Russia-NATO, which created a mechanism for joint action and consultations. In 1999, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland joined NATO, and in 2004 – Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia; from 2009 to 2020, the alliance included Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
Lavrov said that Russia has carefully studied the US and NATO responses on security assurances. He noted that Russia’s key proposals received a negative response. Western countries referred to the right of any state to choose allies and join alliances, the minister noted, but Moscow does not consider this right “unconditional.” Lavrov added that Russia would continue to seek a concrete response to its proposals from each country.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Berlin on Sunday that Putin came up with the idea to draw a marker pen over (the map) of Europe and then said: “This is mine, and this is yours.” But it does not work that way – emphasized the Chancellor, noting at the same time that he would not end the dialogue with Putin.
Scholz was explaining why he thought Putin started war for ‘completely absurd’ reasons. “NATO was never a threat to Russia,” he said on Sunday during a public discussion on the federal government’s open day in Berlin.
Scholz claims that before the war began in February, he assured Putin that Ukraine would not join NATO “in the next 30 years.”
Putin, on the other hand, had “completely absurd” ideas, according to Scholz. For example, the Russian president told him that Belarus and Ukraine should not be independent states.
This is a war that Putin, Russia, started with the clear intention of conquering its neighbour, he said. Scholz compared Russia’s actions to the early days of imperialism and said, “I think that was the original goal.”
Russia is currently concerned with gaining territory in eastern Ukraine, but this is not guaranteed, according to the Chancellor, so capitulating is not a prudent strategy.
“Putin is not allowed to conquer countries and redefine borders,” he told his audience.
Scholz said the Russian leader planned the present war long before the invasion began. “The original goal of this war that Putin started (…) was clearly the intention to conquer a neighbouring country,” he said.
Scholz, on the other hand, stated that he would not end the talks with Putin.
But Russia thought that talks could go along with the war, and talks were endless.
In February, answering Putin’s question about whether Russia has a chance to agree with the US and NATO on key issues of concern to Moscow, Lavrov said that “endless conversations on issues that need to be addressed today” are unacceptable. “But still, probably, being the head of the Foreign Ministry, I must say that there is always a chance,” he added.
Russian suspicion that Ukraine would eventually join NATO was not unfounded. In February, the Ukrainian Ambassador to London, Vadym Prystaiko, admitted on BBC radio that Kyiv could abandon plans to join the North Atlantic Alliance in order to avoid a “war”. At the same time, Oleg Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, told Segodnya that Ukraine is ready for any format of a dialogue in order to save the lives of its citizens, but the country’s plans to join NATO are enshrined in the Constitution.