Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West on Tuesday of deliberately creating a scenario designed to “lure” the country into war while ignoring Russia’s security concerns over Ukraine.
In his first direct public comments on the crisis in nearly six weeks, Putin remained defiant and 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 the Russian leader denies. “It’s already clear now … that fundamental Russian concerns were ignored,” Putin said at a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Hungary, one of several NATO leaders trying to intercede with him as the crisis has intensified.
President Joe Biden moved 100,000 troops to the Ukraine border amid talks with both Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who met on Tuesday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Kyiv, where Zelensky accused Putin of holding a gun to Ukraine’s head to demand changes to the security architecture in Europe. Johnson said any Russian invasion of Ukraine would lead to a “military and humanitarian” disaster.
"He's under absolutely no threat from NATO. He knows it. This is a game that Putin is playing to try to restore the Soviet empire." – Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark discusses tensions between Russia and Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/eTmo4xpJEi
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) February 1, 2022
The Kremlin wants the West to respect a 1999 agreement that no country can strengthen its own security at the expense of others, which it considers at the heart of the crisis, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Lavrov said Blinken accepted the need to discuss the matter further, while a U.S. account of the call focused on the need for Moscow to pull back.
"They played us."
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) February 1, 2022
As Western countries rush to show solidarity with Ukraine, the U.S. urged Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to cancel a visit with Putin in Russia, Reuters reported on Tuesday. But Zelensky has repeatedly played down the prospect of an imminent invasion and urged lawmakers to stay calm and avoid panic. The recent troop increase on the border was “not because we will soon have a war … but so that soon and in the future there will be peace in Ukraine,” Zelensky said.
“Vladimir Putin's words — he said that there is no Russian plan to invade Ukraine again. Remember, it did in 2014. But what he set out at this news conference was scenarios in which there could be an armed conflict.” @mchancecnn has more on Putin’s remarks earlier today. pic.twitter.com/wNmTS7tYXl
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) February 2, 2022