Putin accuses West of “escalating situation” in Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the West is “worsening” the conflict in Ukraine by organizing exercises in the Black Sea and flying bombers near its borders.

His comments come as the United States accuses Moscow of a troop build-up near Ukraine.

Western countries have for days sounded the alarm over Russian military activity near Ukraine, with Washington warning Moscow of another “big mistake” in the former Soviet country.

“(Our) Western partners are worsening the situation by supplying Kiev with modern lethal weapons and leading provocative maneuvers in the Black Sea,” Putin said in a speech at the Foreign Ministry.

He claimed that Western bombers were flying “20 kilometers from our border”.

The longtime Russian leader said Moscow has “consistently raised concerns about this” but that “all of our warnings and talks on the red lines are being treated superficially.”

Putin has been worried for days about US naval exercises in the Black Sea, telling his French counterpart this week that they were “provocative” and led to “growing tensions” between Moscow and NATO.

He also criticized Ukraine for using a Turkish-made drone against pro-Moscow rebels.

The Black Sea is a sensitive region for Russia, which controls the Crimean Peninsula after annexing it to Ukraine in 2014.

Since then, Kiev has waged a conflict with the pro-Russians rebels in the east of the country which left more than 13,000 dead.

Russia as “guilty of all problems”

Western speculation renewed on Russia’s plans in eastern Ukraine came amid a clash over an unexpected migrant crisis on the border with Kremlin-aligned Belarus and EU member Poland.

The EU has accused the Kremlin-backed regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus of deliberately luring thousands of migrants – mostly from the Middle East – to its door in revenge for the sanctions.

Some EU members, including Poland, have said Moscow is also at the root of the crisis.

“Brussels must understand that the decrease in military-political tensions is not only in the interests of Russia, but in those of the whole of Europe, and even of the world,” Putin said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Kremlin said Europe should not blame Russia for “all problems”.

“Russia it is in everyone’s interest that everyone in Europe finally come to their senses and stop considering Russia the culprit of all the problems, “Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He added that Europe should instead “tackle the main sources of the problems which are currently suffocating Europe”.

Peskov’s remarks come after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Wednesday Russia against any “military adventurism” on the borders of Ukraine and Poland, member of the EU.

“Recently there have been a lot of hysterical posts in Britain,” Peskov said.

“Russia does not wage any hybrid war, ”he added.

Ukraine seeks more Western weapons

Russia had carried out large-scale exercises near the Ukrainian border and in annexed Crimea in the spring, raising fears of a possible invasion.

Kiev, which in recent weeks has downplayed the scale of Russia’s presence at its borders said on Thursday it was seeking more military aid from the West.

Videos posted recently on social media showed Russia move troops, tanks and missiles towards the Ukrainian border.

“Russia’s aggressiveness, both diplomatic and military, has increased considerably in recent weeks,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a press briefing.

The minister said that after his visits to Washington and Brussels, “work is underway to develop a comprehensive package for the containment of Russia.”

He added that Kiev is in negotiations with the West for “the supply of additional defense weapons for our army”.

Moscow, in turn, accused Kiev and the West of hawkishness.

This week, Frenchman Macron told Putin that Paris was ready to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity, according to the Elysee.


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