‘They are to blame!’ Putin issues fresh set of demands as invasion fears soar

Biden warns of 'severe consequences' if Putin moves on Ukraine

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According to the Russian President the West developed a form of euphoria following the end of the Cold War which was seen as a victory and has led to poor policy choices. Putin said that Russia would respond to any Western aggression and argued that the eastward expansion of NATO and abandonment of missile treaties had led to tensions.

Speaking to senior military officials on Tuesday, he said: “Why did they expand NATO and renounce the missile defence treaties?

“They are to blame for what is happening now, for the tensions building up in Europe.”

Russia had demanded that NATO refuse to accept Ukraine as a member of the military alliance as well as guaranteeing that no weapons or troops will be deployed there.

This demand contained in a proposed Russia-US security treaty and security agreement between Russia and NATO was drafted as tensions with the eastern nation surge.

Reports of the extensive build-up of Russian troops close to the Ukrainian border has stoked fears of a possible invasion.

On Tuesday German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz expressed his concern about the troop build up in a phone call to Putin.

However, the Russian President has denied that he has plans to invade Ukraine but is seeking legal guarantees about NATO expansion and weapons deployment in the former Soviet republic.

According to the Kremlin, Putin has spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron and Scholtz last week about diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis as well as the proposed security agreements.

Putin said that he hoped diplomatic efforts would be successful but that he was also very concerned about the possibility of US missiles being placed in Poland and Romania.

He said: “We are extremely concerned that elements of the US global missile defence system are being deployed next to Russia.”

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu expressed his concern that the United States had deployed 8,000 troops near to Russian borders and along with NATO allies launched flights by strategic bomber planes close to Russia.

US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried told reporters that a specific date would be agreed with Russia to begin talks to ease tensions.

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that the alliance will begin discussions with Moscow early next year in order to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine.

He said: “We remain ready for meaningful dialogue with Russia and I intend to call a new meeting of the NATO-Russia Council as soon as possible in the new year.”

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