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Russia, US creating body to address Ukraine crisis

Russia expects its concerns to be heard despite negative experience in past decades, says President Vladimir Putin

Elena Teslova   | 09.12.2021
Russia, US creating body to address Ukraine crisis

MOSCOW

US President Joe Biden suggested creating a body that will address the issues regarding Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday. 

Russia is extremely concerned about the prospects of Ukraine's admission to NATO, and has all reasons to expect NATO's military infrastructure to be deployed on the Russian borders if Ukraine becomes a NATO member, Putin said at a news conference in Sochi after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

It would be "criminal inaction" on the part of the Russian authorities not to do anything in such a situation, the president stressed.

"Russia pursues a peaceful foreign policy, but it has the right to ensure its security. We are discussing this with all our partners, including the president of the United States. We cannot but be concerned about the prospect of Ukraine's admission to NATO, because this will certainly be followed by the deployment of relevant contingents, bases, and weapons there, threatening us," he said.

Russia expects its concerns will be heard despite negative experience in past decades when NATO's facilities were coming closer to the Russian borders despite requests against it, he said.

"We have agreed that we will create an appropriate structure that will be able to deal with this in detail and will submit relevant proposals. This idea was formulated by the US president, and I agreed with it. In the near future, we will present our thoughts and proposals on this matter," he said.

Putin confirmed that the Ukrainian conflict took an important place in his conversation with Biden on Tuesday.

"Biden and I talked about regional issues, the conflict in the southeast of Ukraine and the related topic of the expansion of the NATO bloc to the east, ... this is one of the important issues of ensuring Russia's security.

"Every country has the right to choose an acceptable way to ensure security, but this should be done in such a way as not to undermine the security of other states, in this case, Russia. We believe that security should be global and apply to everyone," he said.

Besides Ukraine, the two presidents also discussed cybersecurity. According to Putin, Russia and the US made some progress in this matter after the meeting in Geneva in June.

Normalization of the diplomatic ties and the restoration of the Iran nuclear deal were also among the topics discussed.  

Issues discussed in Putin-Mitsotakis meeting

Asked what Moscow thinks about Greece's membership in NATO, Putin said it does not prevent Greece and Russia from developing bilateral relations.

"NATO is a military bloc that clearly conducts a confrontational policy towards Russia, declaring Russia its opponent. We do not seek confrontation. We hope that Greece will take a balanced position on this issue. In any case, Greece's membership in alliances has never hindered the development of our relations," he said.

As for the Greek-Turkish tensions, Putin said he proceeds from the fact that all issues that arise will be resolved via dialogues between Athens and Ankara.

About Libya, he said he expects the elections will be held in time, leading to stabilization and finding a solution appropriate for all sides.

For his part, Mitsotakis accused Turkey of using "aggressive rhetoric" regarding the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, but said the issue of border delimitation, including the territorial affiliation of the islands, can be discussed in a direct dialogue with Ankara.

"Our wish is to conduct an energetic dialogue and non-violation of the territorial integrity of our countries, including resolving the Cyprus issue," he said.

Commenting on the situation in Ukraine, Mitsotakis expressed hope that there will be no serious clashes, while Greece is interested in the solution of the crisis as many Greek people live in the area.

"Our common goal is to adopt some kind of roadmap to reduce tension, because if tension exists, it can set us back decades," the premier said.

He agreed with Putin that Greece's membership does not affect Athens' desire to build a "constructive relationship" with Russia.

Mitsotakis also urged Libya to take the opportunity to hold elections that will have a positive effect for resolving the crisis in the country.

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