With tensions rising between Russia and Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Russia may be dragged into a war with Ukraine if the country joins NATO.
“Imagine that Ukraine becomes a NATO member and launches those military operations,” Putin said on Tuesday. “Should we fight NATO then? Has anyone thought about it?”
Putin also said that the US might try and “draw us into a military conflict and force its allies in Europe to impose the tough sanctions the US is talking about now.” He also claimed that Washington might “draw Ukraine into NATO, deploy offensive weapons there,” “…drawing us into a military conflict,”
Russia has been amassing troops near the Ukrainian border for months, and the country has recently sent a list of “security demands” that have been refused by NATO members. Moreover, NATO has also started to send weapons to Ukraine, which has escalated tensions for the past few weeks.
Although leaders of NATO members have said that they would not send troops to Ukraine, NATO has retained that the alliance does not seek to reduce its influence or stop its expansion, with the US formally rejecting Russian demands and saying that NATO’s door will “remain open.”
However, talks have started between Russia and NATO, signaling that a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine may not be as imminent as feared by NATO. Delegates from both have been trying to de-escalate the situation and have expressed interest in solving the crisis through diplomacy.
After speaking with Hungarian President Viktor Orban, Putin also said “We need to find a way to ensure [the] interests and security of all parties, including Ukraine, European nations and Russia,”
Despite signs of de-escalation, the US has still been skeptical of Putin. The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, spoke with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in an effort to defuse the crisis earlier on Tuesday. He said, “If Putin doesn’t intend war or regime change, this is the time to pull back,” “The sense here is still that we don’t know that Putin has made a decision about what he’s going to do. So until President Putin makes that decision, we need to continue to prepare for these different outcomes.”