President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that the United States was trying to pull Russia into an armed conflict over Ukraine that his government did not want and signaled he was prepared to engage in more diplomacy, even as he insisted that NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe threatened world peace.
Putin said he hoped that "dialogue will be continued” over Russia’s security demands, refraining from repeating his earlier threat to take unspecified "military-technical” measures if the West did not comply. Addressing the standoff over Ukraine for the first time since December, Putin appeared to be trying to dial down tensions slightly in a crisis that has ignited fears of a full-fledged Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian president claimed it was the United States that was fanning the flames of war, seeking to goad the Kremlin into action and create a pretext for enacting harsh new sanctions. Officials in Russia — as well as Ukraine — have accused the Biden administration of exaggerating the threat of a Russian invasion, even as the Kremlin has massed, by Western estimates, more than 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s south, east and north, precipitating the crisis.