The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Putin: West ignores Russia's interests in Ukraine by holding open door to NATO membership

  • Print
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with senior representatives of major international news agencies in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, May 24, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of ignoring Russia’s interests in Ukraine, in particular by leaving open the possibility that Ukraine could one day join NATO. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)

Enlarge Image

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with senior representatives of major international news agencies in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, May 24, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of ignoring Russia’s interests in Ukraine, in particular by leaving open the possibility that Ukraine could one day join NATO. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - President Vladimir Putin accused the West on Saturday of ignoring Russia's interests in Ukraine, in particular by leaving open the possibility that Ukraine could one day join NATO.

"Where is the guarantee that, after the forceful change of power, Ukraine will not tomorrow end up in NATO?" Putin told senior representatives of major international news agencies, including The Associated Press.

"We hear only one answer, as if on a record: Every nation has a right to determine on its own the security system in which it wants to live, and that doesn't concern you," he said.

Weighing into the topic of Ukraine one day before it holds a presidential election that the West hopes will be a step toward resolving the crisis, Putin accused Western politicians of dallying with a distant country and not taking into account how important Ukraine is to Russia's security and economic interests.

Pro-Russia armed separatists in the east of Ukraine have threatened to block the presidential vote, which was called after the Russia-leaning president fled in February following months of street protests.

Russia has serious concerns that the new Western-leaning government in Kyiv could take Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, into the U.S.-dominated military alliance. When Russia annexed Crimea in March, Putin said the decision was driven in part by the need to prevent NATO ships from ever being based on the Black Sea peninsula.

Putin said that he didn't believe a new Cold War had begun with the United States over Ukraine, but asserted that Russia had no intention of playing second fiddle to the West in global affairs.

"If the main bonus Russia gets is to sit in the room and listen to what other people are saying, then that is not a role Russia can agree to," Putin said. "We always take into account the interests of our partners ... but there are some lines that cannot be crossed, and Ukraine and Crimea were that line."

Putin on Friday had cheered investors at Russia's annual international economic forum by promising to respect the result of Sunday's election and work with Ukraine's new leader.

During nearly three hours of questions and answers with the news agency representatives, the first part of which was televised, Putin nevertheless was adamant that the Ukraine crisis stemmed from a "coup d'etat" that he said was orchestrated by the West. He also said that the voting was not in keeping with Kyiv's current constitution.

However, he hinted that after the election there could be a new opportunity for talks between the authorities in Kyiv and the pro-Russian separatists who have seized government buildings and entire cities in the eastern part of Ukraine, where the population is predominantly Russian-speaking.

"We need direct dialogue between the powers in Kyiv and the people in the east," Putin said. "If they want to preserve the unity of the country they have to open up to a dialogue, and not just among themselves. They have to show them (those in the east) prospects for a future within a Ukrainian government and that their rights will be guaranteed." So far there is little of that, he said, but "I hope that this will happen nonetheless after the elections."

Putin also said he has already suggested a mediator between the Kyiv government and those fighting for independence in the east: Viktor Medvedchuk, a onetime administrative chief to former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma considered close to Russia.

Medvedchuk supported the ousted Ukrainian government and is among those hit by U.S. sanctions over the Russian seizure of Crimea. He would likely be unacceptable to the new Kyiv leadership.

Putin was asked by Britain's Press Association about Prince Charles' reported comment in a private conversation during a visit to Canada comparing the annexation of Crimea to Adolf Hitler's 1939 invasion of Poland. He said the comparison was "unacceptable" and "not royal behaviour."

"I think he understands that himself," Putin said.

Late Saturday, the Kremlin said Putin held a three-way telephone conversation with the leaders of Germany and France in which they all expressed their desire to see a peaceful election in Ukraine.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - Take It Easy

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Carolyn Kavanagh(10) had this large dragonfly land on her while spending time at Winnetka Lake, Ontario. photo by Andrea Kavanagh (mom0 show us your summer winnipeg free press
  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Manitoba support the transport of nuclear waste through the province?

View Results

Ads by Google