Putin’s comments came during a press conference with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, at the Kremlin’s Russian presidential headquarters in Moscow, after the conclusion of talks between the two leaders.
Putin said: “We talked about Lukashenko’s contacts with Western countries and Russia’s contacts with Western countries through Russia’s security initiative, which includes legally binding guarantees.”
He added, “We talked about Russia’s legitimate demands, including the non-expansion of NATO to the east, the non-deployment of offensive weapons near our borders, and the return of NATO to the borders of 1997, when the Russia-NATO agreement was signed.”
“But Western countries are not ready to discuss seriously, and at the same time they presented common ideas to protect European security, including not to deploy short or medium-range missiles,” the Russian president added.
Putin stressed Moscow’s readiness to discuss all these issues with the West, but demanded to consider Russia’s initiative in full without deducting any part of it.
Regarding the joint exercises with Belarus, “Al-Hazm and Union 2022,” Putin said: “In light of the increased activities of NATO countries on the borders of our countries, we have deeply evaluated the 2022 military exercises. These exercises will continue until the 20th of this month and bear a purely defensive character and do not threaten anyone.”
He added, “The defense ministers of the two countries also announced in advance the holding of these military maneuvers.”
When the Russian entered the heart of the Ukrainian crisis, he said that this crisis is not being resolved despite the efforts of the Quartet. Kiev rejects dialogue and refuses to make an amendment to the constitution to give Donbass a special status, as well as a general amnesty.
He added: “Kiev has not implemented any of the provisions of the agreements, and there are also human rights violations against Russian speakers in Ukraine.
The Russian president said that to reduce escalation in Ukraine, “the Minsk Agreement must be implemented and all political, economic and social measures must be agreed upon, and the sooner the better.”
For his part, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Putin, said that the current crisis is not linked to Ukraine’s will.
He added that for the first time in decades we face a real danger of war, and this is the result of the loss of responsibility and the stupidity of some Western politicians, who are behaving improperly.
Lukashenko said conditions are deteriorating in Donbass and some people are preparing to leave, which is not normal.
He added that the Russian-Belarusian maneuvers will soon end, “Al-Hazm and Al-Ittihad 2022”.
He considered that in light of the increase in the military danger, Belarus has the right to enhance its military capabilities, and that the border with Ukraine exceeds 1,000 kilometers, which increases the importance of strengthening military capabilities.