Russian President Vladimir Putin presented US President Joe Biden with a demand for legally binding security guarantees that would rule out the expansion of NATO, the Kremlin said on Tuesday after virtual talks between the two leaders.
During two hours of talks with Biden on a video call, Putin said NATO was bolstering its military potential near Russia’s borders and “making dangerous attempts to conquer Ukrainian territory,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
“Therefore, Russia is seriously interested in obtaining reliable, legally fixed guarantees that rule out NATO expansion eastward and the deployment of offensive strike weapons systems in states adjacent to Russia,” the Kremlin said.
Russian authorities have said that NATO’s growing ties with Ukraine and the possibility of the alliance deploying missiles targeted against Russia there represented a “red line” it would not allow to be crossed.
Putin also told his US counterpart he wanted guarantees that offensive strike systems would not be deployed in countries close to Russia, the Kremlin said.
It said Putin presented the Russian demands in response to Biden’s threat of sanctions against Moscow if the current tensions over Ukraine escalated.
He also repeated Moscow’s accusation that Ukraine was taking a “destructive line” aimed at dismantling agreements from 2014 and 2015 aimed at ending its conflict with Russian-backed separatists.
The two leaders agreed to get their representatives to engage in “substantive consultations on these sensitive issues”, the Kremlin said.
The talks were held as the West voiced concerns that Russia will invade Ukraine and warned of “strong economic and other measures” as punishment should Moscow start a military conflict.
The Kremlin, which said before Tuesday’s meeting that it did not expect any breakthroughs, has denied harbouring any intention to attack Ukraine and said that its troop posture is defensive.