Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of deliberately creating a scenario designed to lure it into war and ignoring Russia’s security concerns over Ukraine.
In his first direct public comments on the crisis for nearly six weeks, a defiant Putin showed no sign of backing down from security demands that the West has called non-starters and a possible excuse to launch an invasion, which Moscow denies.
Putin also described a potential future scenario in which Ukraine was admitted to NATO and then attempted to recapture the Crimea peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014.
Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and Western countries say they fear Putin may be planning to invade.
Russia denies this but has said it could take unspecified military action unless its security demands are met. Western countries say an invasion would bring sanctions on Moscow.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin wants the West to respect a 1999 agreement that no country can strengthen its security at the expense of others, which it considers at the heart of the crisis.
He raised the charter signed in Istanbul by members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes the United States and Canada, during a call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Lavrov said Blinken accepted the need to discuss the matter further whilst a U.S. account of the call focused on the need for Moscow to pull back.