Putin Wants Guarantees That NATO Won’t Expand Eastward

Russia says Ukraine is deploying half of its army to the conflict zone in the eastern Donbas region

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he will seek guarantees from Western powers that NATO won’t expand further eastward and won’t deploy more weapons near Russia’s borders.

“In a dialogue with the United States and its allies, we will insist on working out specific agreements that would exclude any further NATO moves eastward and the deployment of weapons systems that threaten us in close vicinity to Russian territory,” Putin said.

He warned that “the threats are mounting on our western border” as the US and NATO have expanded their presence in the region. “We aren’t demanding any special conditions for ourselves and realize that any agreements must take interests of Russia and all Euro-Atlantic countries into account,” Putin said.

Putin’s comments come as tensions are soaring between Russia and the West over US claims that Moscow is planning to invade Ukraine, an accusation Russia has strongly denied. The US has made the claim based on an alleged Russian troop buildup near the border with Ukraine.

Russia maintains that any troop movements inside its own borders are not meant as a threat to Ukraine but are a reaction to an increase in US and NATO military activity in the region. Now, the Russians are accusing Ukraine of amassing troops near the conflict zone in the eastern Donbas region, which borders Russia.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said according to some reports, the number of Ukrainian troops in the conflict zone has reached 125,000, which is half of Ukraine’s army.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.