Tensions have been rising between Russia and NATO again as the Kremlin provided a list of demands to NATO and asked it to reduce its influence over Eastern Europe.
The demands came at a time when Russia was massing troops near the Ukraine border, which is seen as a prelude to an invasion by the West. However, on Tuesday, in a speech to Russia’s top commanders, Vladimir Putin blamed NATO for the tensions and threatened a military “counter” response if Russia felt threatened.
Putin said in a televised remark, “If our western counterparts continue a clearly aggressive line, we will undertake proportionate military-technical countermeasures and will respond firmly to unfriendly steps. I’d like to stress that we are fully entitled to do that.”
Although Putin demanded legal guarantees from NATO, Putin told his top commanders: “You and I know well that even they, legal guarantees, cannot be trusted because the United States easily withdraws from all international agreements it loses interest in for one reason or another … giving no explanations whatsoever.”
Putin argued that the US was considering an armed attack from Ukraine into Russian territory and that Russia found itself boxed in a corner. “We can’t retreat any further. Do they really think we’ll sit idly as they create threats against us?”
Although tensions were already at an all-time high, the recent remarks from Putin show a more worrying pattern as both sides refuse to come to an arrangement.