During his annual press conference on Thursday, the Russian president hammered home his will not to see NATO progress towards Ukraine.
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His press conference, Thursday, December 23, was particularly eagerly awaited on this subject: Vladimir Putin ruled “positive” the first American reactions to Russian demands to resolve the Russo-Western crisis around the Ukraine, which shook the European security balance resulting from the Cold War.
Russia has proposed two treaties, one to the United States and the other to the NATO country, to ban any enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance, in particular to Ukraine, and the end of all Western military activity in proximity to Russian borders. “There must be no NATO advances towards the East, the ball is in their court, they must answer us”, he said. “For now, we are seeing a positive reaction, our American partners tell us that they are ready to start this discussion, these negotiations, from the start of the year in Geneva”, added the head of the Kremlin.
The Russian President then reiterated that any future broadening of the Atlantic Alliance was “unacceptable” for Russia which will not tolerate a Western weapons system “on (his) doorstep”. The remark comes two days after he threatened the West with “military and technical measures” if his demands were not accepted. Its demands, heavy with consequences for the European security architecture, were judged “inadmissible” by many western voices.
The Russian president is suspected of preparing an invasion of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic which is now pro-Western, part of whose territory, Crimea, has already been annexed by Russia in 2014. More than 100,000 Russian soldiers are said to be deployed at the border.