Politics, World

Putin pledges 'to act proportionally' to NATO expansion

Addressing diplomats, Russian president speaks on foreign policy towards NATO, the US, Syria, and Ukraine

19.07.2018
Putin pledges 'to act proportionally' to NATO expansion

MOSCOW

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday pledged "to act proportionally" to the deployment of NATO military infrastructure near Russia’s borders.

The key to security in Europe lies in constructive cooperation, not in a "sharp game," Putin said during a meeting with Russia’s ambassadors and permanent representatives.

Putin cited the Nord Stream II pipeline as an example of such cooperation, which he said "has no political background."

"The key to providing security and safety in Europe is in expanding cooperation and restoring trust, and not in deploying new NATO bases and military infrastructure near Russia’s borders, which is what is taking place now,” he said.

“We will respond appropriately to such aggressive steps, which pose a direct threat to Russia."

Putin said there is a serious risk of aggravation of the situation in southeastern Ukraine, as Kiev does not want to implement the Minsk II agreement.

Eastern Ukraine has been wracked by conflict since March 2014, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Conflict parties signed the Minsk cease-fire agreement in February 2015, with the mediation of France and Germany, but the fighting continued, claiming more than 10,000 lives, according to the UN.

The UN General Assembly has voted to proclaim the Russian annexation illegal.

Along with many UN countries, the U.S., the EU and Turkey do not recognize Crimea as Russian territory.

'Russian-US ties worst than in Cold War'

Putin also underlined the necessity of preserving the Iran nuclear deal, saying it carries “crucial significance for global non-proliferation."

He also said Daesh and other extremist groups in Syria suffered a crushing blow in Syria "with Russia’s decisive role."

On Russian-U.S. ties in the wake of his controversial summit with U.S. President Donald Trump this week, Putin called them worse than during the Cold War. He characterized the summit as "successful" but said "certain forces in America try to decry, disavow the results of the meeting in Helsinki."

Trump was met with widespread criticism after a post-summit press conference in which he seemed to side with Putin against U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Putin also said there are forces in the U.S. ready to sacrifice to their domestic political ambitions not only Russian-American relations but also the "interests of their allies both in Europe and the Middle East.”

Putin said Russia's active involvement in global affairs is driven "by our priority national interest, which is to create favorable and safe conditions for the country’s breakthrough development, for attaining large-scale social and economic goals, and for improving the quality of life for the people."

The meetings of Russia's ambassadors and permanent representatives are held every two years. Others invited include the leaders of the government and both houses of the Federal Assembly, as well as the heads of ministries and agencies involved in international activities plus members of the research, expert, and business communities.

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