Putin wants ‘immediate’ talks with NATO on Russia’s security

Moscow wants it to stop expansion, weapons deployment

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that he wants “immediate” talks with the U.S. and NATO over security guarantees, as tensions soar between Moscow and the West over Ukraine.

The U.S. and its allies have for weeks accused Russia of planning an invasion of its neighbour, warning of a massive coordinated sanctions should Mr. Putin launch an attack.

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Tens of thousands of Russian troops are stationed near the borders of ex-Soviet Ukraine, where the West has accused the Kremlin of backing pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.

In a phone call with the Finnish President — whose country has traditionally served as middle ground between Russia and the West — Mr. Putin said he wanted security talks to begin without delay.

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He told President Sauli Niinsto that Moscow wants “to immediately launch negotiations with the U.S. and NATO in order to develop international legal guarantees for the security of our country,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

Russia’s demands, it said, included stopping NATO from expanding east and the deployment of weapons in neighbouring countries, including Ukraine.

Mr. Putin reiterated the same demands in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron later on Tuesday.

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