Ukraine's accession to NATO 'fundamental threat' to Russia's security, says Putin

Ukraine's accession to NATO 'fundamental threat' to Russia's security, says Putin

Russian president defends 'special military operation' in Ukraine, as he speaks with African leaders​ in St. Petersburg

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said prospects of Ukraine's accession to NATO were "a fundamental threat" to Russia's security.

Speaking with African leaders in St. Petersburg late on Friday, Putin said the advance of the alliance's military infrastructure was "unacceptable."

The Russian leader also pointed to the fate of conflict-hit countries, including Iraq, Libya, and Syria, which he said NATO countries had declared opponents.

"The problem did not arise yesterday, it was provoked by some forces in the West, who for many years were preparing for a hybrid war with our country, did everything to turn Ukraine into a tool to undermine the foundations of the security of the Russian Federation, to damage Russian positions in the world and to undermine our statehood," he stressed.

Putin said Ukraine's military development culminated in 2014 when the Western countries "sponsored unconstitutional armed bloody coup" in Ukraine.

"It was precisely a state unconstitutional armed bloody coup, which Western countries actively supported, ignoring all norms of international law and directly, publicly said that they sponsored this coup, even called the amount of money, they spent on it," he noted.

Putin also referred to Ukraine's Declaration of Independence, which includes a clause on the country's status as a neutral state.

"In this declaration, it was written in black and white that Ukraine is a neutral state, and this is of fundamental importance for us," he emphasized.

- West forgot what it did in Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria

Putin also dismissed accusations that Moscow violated the UN Charter when it launched its "special military operation" in Ukraine in 2022.

"On the contrary, I am sure that we acted in full compliance with the UN Charter. After the coup in 2014, the Ukrainian authorities began fighting, in fact, against part of their people, using aircraft, heavy equipment, tanks against those who did not agree with the coup supported by the West in 2014. Thus, the West started the war in Ukraine. That's exactly how it was, and it's impossible to deny it," he said.

Recalling the signing of the Minsk agreements on the peaceful settlement of the crisis, Putin said that with the West's support, Kyiv flouted their part of the accords.

He said that for eight years, Russia avoided recognizing the breakaway "republics" that declared independence from eastern Ukraine and sought a peaceful settlement, Putin said, adding that when Kyiv refused to implement the Minsk deals, Russia was "forced" to recognize them.

"Within the framework of these agreements, calls for help were answered. This, in turn, refers to Article 51 of the UN Charter and fully corresponds to the article. There is no violation of the UN Charter here," he argued.

Putin said the Western "partners" had forgotten their actions in Iraq and Sudan, overthrowing the state in these countries, while they invaded Libya and Syria with no UN resolution.

"They didn't give a damn about the UN Charter. They remember international law only when they believe these tools can be used against someone — in this case, against Russia. They won't succeed, it's too primitive. If they really want someone to comply with the UN Charter and other norms of international law, then let's take the trouble to comply with the same norms of law themselves."

Nevertheless, Russia supports a peaceful settlement of any disputes, Putin underlined.

He said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had signed a decree prohibiting peace talks with Russia so long as the current administration stays in power, but added: "For our part, we have never refused to negotiate, we have always publicly stated that we are ready to continue dialogue."

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