Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, has stated that while Russia does not seek a conflict in Europe, his security concerns must be addressed and taken seriously by Western nations.
Putin’s remarks come as the Russian military said on February 15 that some troops were withdrawing from the Ukrainian border, the first evidence of a possible de-escalation of hostilities from Moscow.
Russia’s unexpected military build-up of 130,000 troops near Ukraine’s border has sparked fears that it will invade the country, despite Putin’s denials.
Russia has strong cultural and historical links with Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, and Putin has requested assurances from the West that Ukraine will not join the Western NATO military alliance, which he sees as a threat to Russia.
Olaf Scholz, the latest Western leader to visit the region to try to de-escalate tensions, spoke in Moscow on Tuesday after a four-hour meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In response to a question regarding the possibility of conflict, Putin told the press:
“Do we want this or not? Of course, not. That is exactly why we put forward proposals for a process of negotiations.”