Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently given his opinion on the possibility of war with Ukraine. When he was asked about the prospect of an attack on the country, Putin told the media, “Do we want this or not? Of course, not. That is exactly why we put forward proposals for a process of negotiations.”
Russia has a long and deep connection historically with Ukraine which was formally a Soviet republic. President Putin has been trying to get assurances that Ukraine will not be able to join the Western Nato military alliance. Putin believes that any expansion along those lines will be a threat to Russia. Nato has rejected Putin’s wishes as to the advance of Nato’s reach.
President Putin was speaking in Moscow to the media after a four-hour meeting with Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany. He is the latest national leader from the West that has visited with Putin in order to attempt to de-escalate tensions. It was after this back and forth with Scholz that Putin declared that “of course” he did not want war.
Russia’s president and Scholz clashed back and forth especially when Putin talked about the precedent for war in Europe. He mentioned the conflict in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. He described that conflict as one waged by Nato against Serbia and it did not have UN Security Council approval.
Scholz explained that it was a different situation because there was a danger of genocide by Serbs against non-Serbs. Putin shot back saying that this is what is happening in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. Russia is wanting to back separatists who Putin believes are experiencing genocide against ethnic Russians.
Scholz told journalists later that Putin was wrong to use the word “genocide” in regarding the conflict in Ukraine.
Putin complained that Nato is not addressing Russia’s basic security concerns. He is demanding that the plan for Ukraine to join Nato be addressed right now, but the country is a long way from even beginning the application process to join the alliance of nations.
Chancellor Scholz said that the build-up of troops was “incomprehensible,” but he does still believe that it is possible to obtain diplomatic solutions that could ease the tensions in the region.
Scholz said to the media after he met with Putin, “I expressed that the troop build-up is seen as a threat. Of course, we are very concerned, there are more than 100,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, and we find this incomprehensible.”
This discourse took place after Russia’s military announced that some of their troops had pulled back from the border with Ukraine. Nato responded to the pull-back by saying that it was a reason for “cautious optimism.”
Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO chief executive, said, “There are signs from Moscow that diplomacy should continue. This gives grounds for cautious optimism. But so far we have not seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground from the Russian side.”
Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, spoke to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in a call this week. He said that the United States would need to see “verifiable, credible, meaningful de-escalation.”
Not long ago, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister in Britain, tweeted that Russia was giving “mixed signals.” He said that intelligence in the United Kingdom indicated that Russia was building field hospitals near the border. This could only be seen as preparation for an invasion. Johnson said that they have a tough package of sanctions ready if Russia chooses war.
Actions speak louder than words, we have no reason to trust what Putin is saying.