Putin accuses U.S. of trying to lure Russia into war

Russian President Vladimir Putin

© APA | Russian President Vladimir Putin

# 01 February 2022 23:30 (UTC +04:00)

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West on Tuesday of deliberately creating a scenario designed to lure it into war and ignoring Russia's security concerns over Ukraine and has accused the US of seeking to use Ukraine as a tool to constrain Russia and not caring about Ukraine's actual interests, APA reports quoting BBC.

Saying the US had ignored Russian concerns, he again attacked the idea of Ukraine joining the Nato security bloc.

What, he asked, would happen if Ukraine was allowed to join Nato and then tried to take Crimea back from Russia.

Tension is high over a Russian troop build-up close to Ukraine's borders.

Russia denies Western accusations that it is planning an invasion, nearly eight years after the annexation of Crimea and a bloody rebellion in Ukraine's eastern regions.

Moscow in turn accuses the Ukrainian government of failing to implement an international deal to restore peace to the eastern regions, where at least 14,000 people have been killed and Russian-backed rebels control swathes of territory.

He told reporters: "It seems to me that the United States is not so much concerned about the security of Ukraine... but its main task is to contain Russia's development. In this sense Ukraine itself is just a tool to reach this goal."

The US, he said, had ignored Moscow's concerns in its response to Russian demands for legally binding security guarantees, including a block on Nato's further expansion to the east.

"Imagine that Ukraine is a Nato member and a military operation [to regain Crimea] begins," the Russian leader said. "What - are we going to fight with Nato? Has anyone thought about this? It seems like they haven't."

Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, by phone that it was time for Moscow to pull its troops back from the borders if it was sincere about not planning to invade, a senior state department official was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Mr Blinken added that the US and its allies were willing to continue substantive discussions with Russia on mutual security concerns.

In Ukraine itself, visiting UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that a Russian invasion would lead to a military and humanitarian disaster.

After talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the capital Kyiv, he told reporters that it was vital that Russia stepped back.

If Russia invaded, he warned, the Ukrainian army would fight back. "There are 200,000 men and women under arms in Ukraine," he said.

"They will put up a very, very fierce and bloody resistance and I think that parents, mothers, in Russia, should reflect on that fact. And I hope very much that President Putin steps back from the path of conflict and that we engage in dialogue."

Mr Zelensky said that it would "not be a war between Ukraine and Russia - this would be a war in Europe, a full-scale one".

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