There’s an urgent need for talks to stop NATO’s eastward expansion and prevent the bloc’s deployment of offensive weapons, Russian President Vladimir Putin has told British leader Boris Johnson, citing the situation in Ukraine.
The call between the two leaders took place on Monday, a week after Moscow floated the notion of a legally binding treaty offering firm guarantees that NATO would not expand any further east, or place offensive weapons in member countries bordering Russia. Putin informed Johnson that Russia was preparing draft documents to that effect already, and that negotiations needed to begin “immediately.”
Pointing out that Johnson had brought up the issue of an “alleged large-scale movement of Russian troops along the Ukrainian borders,” the Kremlin’s readout of the call noted how Putin had responded with “specific examples of Kiev’s destructive line on the disruption of the Minsk agreements,” which the Russian leader called “an uncontested basis for resolving the internal Ukrainian crisis.”
The Ukrainian authorities are “purposefully exacerbating” the situation in the two breakaway regions in the east, using heavy weapons and attack drones, while discriminating against the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, he added.
His comments came after Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said NATO would face “dire consequences” if it continued to threaten Russian security.
“Lack of progress towards a political and diplomatic solution to this problem will lead to our response being military and technological,” Ryabkov told the newspaper Izvestiya in an interview published on Monday.
The readout provided by 10 Downing Street said Johnson had “reiterated the importance of working through diplomatic channels to de-escalate tensions and identify durable solutions.” The British PM had also “emphasized the UK’s commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and warned that any destabilizing action would be a strategic mistake that would have significant consequences,” it said.