Putin accuses West of escalating tension in Black Sea
Russian president says West started taking Russia's warnings on red lines more seriously
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused NATO and Western countries of escalating the situation in the Black Sea.
Speaking at an expanded meeting of the Foreign Ministry Board in Moscow, Putin said NATO and the West go "beyond limits" conducting "provocative military exercises," and sending strategic bombers with "very serious weapons" to fly at a distance of only 20 kilometers from the Russian state border.
There have been several waves of NATO eastward expansion, anti-missile defense systems have been deployed right next to Russian borders with Romania and Poland, the president added.
"These (anti-missile systems) can easily be put to offensive use with the Mk-41 launchers there; replacing the software takes only minutes," he noted.
Russia repeatedly voiced its concerns but until recently the West has had a "superficial approach" to such warnings about red lines, he said.
"However, our recent warnings are flaring up and produce a certain effect. A known tension has arisen there after all," he said.
It is imperative to push for serious long-term guarantees that ensure Russia's security along its western borders, Putin stressed.
"No matter how difficult it may be, we need to work on this, and I want you to keep that in mind," he said.
Poland-Belarus migration crisis
Putin accused Western countries of using the migration crisis on the Belarus-Poland border to stoke tension in a region near Russia, putting pressure on Minsk, while at the same time forgetting their own humanitarian commitments.
"The first thing that comes to mind is those poor children, there are small children there. And they (Polish forces) are shooting water and tear gas at the crowd, throwing grenades. At night, helicopters fly along the border, sirens are howling," he said.
Russia is interested in building good relations with the EU, but Brussels continues to push Moscow away with sanctions, unfriendly actions, and unfounded accusations, ignoring the obvious benefits of cooperation in politics, economics, and the humanitarian sphere, added Putin.
"A similar, if not more depressing, situation is developing in relations with the North Atlantic Alliance, which shows an emphatically confrontational attitude, persistently and demonstratively brings its military infrastructure closer to our borders. Moreover, NATO has proactively broken all the mechanisms of dialogue," he added.
Turning to the Nagorno-Karabakh, Putin said he regretted a recent escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, pointing out that this showed that the conflict had not been settled completely.
Another "trouble spot" is Afghanistan, the Russian president said, with recent developments there demanding additional measures to ensure Russia's security on its southern borders to assist its allies in Central Asia, who see Russia as a guarantor of stability in the region.