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Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a video address Wednesday, asserted that the country’s core interests were “non-negotiable” amid tensions with Ukraine – and with the U.S. and other Western nations.
But Putin also said Russia was “always open for direct and honest dialogue,” and was willing to address “the most difficult issues” through diplomacy, according to reports.
Putin’s remarks came on Defenders of the Fatherland Day, the Russian equivalent of Veterans Day in the United States, according to Max Seddon, Moscow bureau chief of The Financial Times of Britain.
The comments also came as Putin – and what actions he might take next — continued to be the focus of the globe as some 150,000 Russian troops remained close to Russia’s border with Ukraine and as the U.S. and the West announced sanctions intended to punish Moscow for what they see as unprovoked aggression against a sovereign nation.
“The interests of Russia, the security of our citizens, are non-negotiable for us,” Putin says in the video, according to The Australian newspaper.
“The interests of Russia, the security of our citizens, are non-negotiable for us.”
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“Our country stays open for direct and honest dialog for the search of diplomatic solutions for the most complex issues,” Putin continued, according to an English translation in a video posted on Twitter by Britain’s Sky News. “But I will repeat: Russia’s interests, our citizens’ safety, are absolute. So we will continue strengthening and developing our army and navy, increasing their efficiency and providing them with the most advanced equipment.”
On Tuesday, President Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, citing what he described as “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,” following reports of Russian troops entering two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.
In addition to amassed Russian troops, Biden said signs of Russia moving supplies of medical equipment and blood to the Ukraine border region were indications that Russia planned further military action.
“You don’t need blood unless you plan on starting a war,” Biden said.
Sanctions, if Russia doesn’t pull back, will include the halting of the Nord Stream 2 fuel pipeline project between Russia and Germany, Biden added.
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On Tuesday night, Russia claimed it had launched diplomatic relations with the breakaway regions in Ukraine. Putin also told reporters that Russia wanted Ukraine to drop its plans to join NATO and instead remain a neutral country, The Australian reported.
Early Wednesday, Japan and Australia announced their own plans for sanctions against Russia, the newspaper reported, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison referring to members of Russia’s security council as “thugs and bullies,” the report said.