The Russian president stressed that national security is Moscow’s number one priority, and that Western countries misled Russia by expanding NATO in Eastern Europe despite previous promises.
Answering a question from Sky News about security guarantees and the possibility of an "invasion" of Ukraine during his 2021 annual press conference, Vladimir Putin stressed that the whole situation was created by the West.
“Our actions will depend not on the course of negotiations, but on the unconditional guarantees of Russian national security. We made it clear that NATO's expansion to the east is unacceptable. The US is standing with missiles on our doorstep. How would Americans react if we placed our missiles at the US border with Canada or Mexico?" he asked.
He reiterated that the West should immediately give firm guarantees to Russia instead of just talking about them for decades.
"It is not the course of the negotiations that is important, the result is important. 'Not a single inch to the East', they told us in the nineties. So what? They tricked us. There have been five waves of NATO expansion. Missile systems are appearing in Romania and Poland. Did we come to them? They came to us", the president stressed.
"In 1991, we divided our country, but this was not enough for our European partners. Even after the collapse of the USSR, we have 146 million people left, and this is too much [for them]. The Soviet Union did everything to build normal relations with the United States and the West, specialists from American services were present at our military weapons facilities, went there every day. US advisers and CIA personnel worked with the Russian government. What else did they want? Why did they support terrorist organisations in the Caucasus? What for? It was an attempt aimed at the further collapse [of Russia]", he stated.
The Russian president stated that his future negotiations with Joe Biden will depend on the US answer to Moscow's security guarantee proposals, and expressed hope that the talks will develop in a constructive way.
The statement came after Russia last week made security guarantee proposals to the US and NATO, later also publishing two draft agreements on the Foreign Ministry's website. The proposals suggest that neither Russia nor NATO send troops, ships, or aircraft within striking distance of the other party. They also stipulate limiting the deployment of intermediate and short-range missiles, as well as returning nuclear weapons already deployed abroad to their country of origin.
Moscow also demanded that NATO halt its eastward expansion towards Russia's borders and not invite post-Soviet countries into the bloc, or deploy military infrastructure on their territory.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the first round of security talks between Moscow and Washington regarding the proposals is set to take place in early 2022.