Putin demands ‘immediate’ security guarantees from Nato

Moscow, Dec 23 (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday demanded “immediate” security guarantees from the United States and Nato.

Speaking during his annual press conference, Putin also warned the alliance against “bogging down” negotiations that are due to begin early next year in Geneva.

“Have we approached the borders of the United States or Britain? They have approached ours. And now they say ‘Ukraine will be a Nato member,’” he said in response to a question from a British journalist.

“You are demanding some guarantees from me. But it is you that must provide guarantees. You must do that at once, now, and not keep talking about this for decades,” Putin said.

The Russian president also questioned how the Americans would react if Moscow suddenly deployed its missiles on the Canada-US border or on the Mexico-US border.

“Sometimes it seems that we live in different worlds,” he said, adding that the Russian proposal for security guarantees is nothing “strange.”

He repeated the Kremlin’s stance that Ukraine joining Nato is inadmissible, and said he felt Russia had been “outrageously deceived” when it was told in the 1990s that the alliance would not expand eastwards.

Poland joined Nato in 1999, while Ukraine formally opened application proceedings in 2008, moves that Russia views as broken Nato promises.

Putin stressed that the West’s reaction to the Russian proposals has so far been “positive.”

“The ball is in their court. They must respond to us. The Americans say they are ready to start that discussion, those negotiations, at the beginning of the year in Geneva. Representatives from both sides have already been appointed. I hope that things will go that way,” he said.

Last week Russia proposed to Nato a security guarantees agreement that would prevent the entry of countries from the former Soviet Union.

It also urges the alliance to desist from all military activity on its doorstep, from Eastern Europe to the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The proposed agreement includes unprecedented demands, such as the withdrawal of troops and weapons deployed after the 1997 signing of the act regulating their relations, which would leave Poland and the three Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia without Nato protection.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the alliance would not compromise the right of any country, including Ukraine, to decide whether it wants to join the organization or the principle of collective defense. EFE


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