Russia not afraid of NATO expansion

© Photo: RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he does not fear the enlargement of NATO. “We have no fear – I do not have and no one else should have this either. Yet we have to bear the realities in mind,” Putin said in a Q&A session on Thursday. He called for taking a sober view of the situation concerning the further enlargement of the alliance. “We will choke them all. What are you afraid of?” Putin said while answering a question to the expansion of NATO.

President Putin’s annual broadcast Q&A session: LIVE UPDATES

NATO’s Rasmussen pledged on Wednesday to step up patrols and boost its military presence along the alliance’s eastern border in Europe, citing Russia’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. “We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water, and more readiness on the land,” Rasmussen said in Brussels.

This move has come as another sign that the alliance was tightening its grip on Eastern Europe where it is already running air-policing and surveillance missions over Poland, Romania and the Baltic trio.

NATO member states earlier released separate announcements saying they were suspending military cooperation with Russia after Crimean residents voted overwhelmingly to join Russia in a referendum, which the West considers illegitimate and Russia says is in line with the UN charter and the international law.

According to Russian experts, the suspension of military cooperation with NATO will do no harm to Russian interests or security.

Russia has vociferously opposed any further eastward expansion by NATO, particularly by former Soviet republics on its borders. Vladimir Putin said last week Moscow was open to further cooperation with NATO, but remained opposed to the organization’s presence in historic Russian territories.

Presidential race in Ukraine proceeding in absolutely unacceptable forms; if this continues, we will be unable to recognize elections – Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the current election campaign in Ukraine has unacceptable forms, and if it continues to take place in such forms, the Russian authorities will not be able to recognize the legitimacy of Ukraine’s upcoming presidential polls. “The presidential race is proceeding in absolutely unacceptable forms. If it continues like this, we certainly will be unable to recognize the events that will follow May 25 [the Ukrainian presidential elections] as legitimate,” Putin said during his annual Q&A session on Thursday.

Compromise needs to be reached by Ukrainian political forces, not Russia, US – Putin

A compromise regarding Ukraine must be reached by Ukrainian political forces rather than Russia and the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Can a compromise regarding Ukraine be reached between the United States and Russia? The compromise must be reached between various political forces inside Ukraine, not between third parties. This is of paramount importance; this is a keynote issue,” Putin said in a Q&A session on Thursday. “All we can do from the outside is to support it in some way and go along with it,” he said.

Ukrainian people must respect Crimea’s choice – Putin

Ukrainian people must respect the Crimea’s choice, the Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his annual Q&A session on Thursday. “If we treat each other with respect, we will have to recognize each other’s right of choice. People who live in Ukraine, have to respect the choice of those who live in Crimea,” Putin said during a live Q&A session Following the regime change in Ukraine in February, Crimea refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new authorities and held a referendum that resulted in its reunification with Russia.

The West consistently blamed Russia for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and called the referendum illegitimate.

The Russian Foreign Ministry insists the vote fully complied with international law and the UN Charter and genuinely reflected the free will of Crimean citizens. On Wednesday, the regime in Kiev announced it was going to raise the issue of Crimea’s return at a planned four-party meeting in Geneva on today, which is to tackle the deteriorating situation in Ukraine following the February coup.

Actions of Russian forces in Crimea were extremely professional – Putin

The actions of Russian forces in Crimea were not premeditated, but extremely professional, said Russian President Vladimir Putin during his Q&A session. “Nothing was prepared beforehand; everything was done on the fly, so to speak, to accommodate the situation. But it was executed flawlessly and professionally,” Putin said. He stressed that Russia’s intention was not to conduct a military operation in Crimea, but to ensure that the people of the peninsula could safely express their will during the referendum.

Things can be put in order in Ukraine only via democratic procedures rather than army use – Putin

Putin assured that “there are no Russian instructors” in Ukraine. Russia wants to build constructive relations with Ukraine and the West, it has no intention of threatening its partners.

The current instability in Ukraine can be settled only through a dialogue rather than using military methods, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

He said he believes it would be very important to start negotiations with all parties involved. “It is every important today to think together about how to overcome the situation and propose a real rather than superficial dialogue,” he said.

Members of the de facto Kiev authorities have been coming to eastern parts of Ukraine from time to time, but they have met with their appointees rather than with their opponents there, he said.

“You don’t have to travel to Donbas [the Donetsk region] for that purpose, and it would be enough to summon them to Kiev and hold a conference there. It’s necessary to speak with the people and their real representatives,”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that there are no Russian Armed Forces units in eastern Ukraine. “Such claims are nonsense,” Putin said during his annual call-in live broadcast on Thursday.

“There are no Russian units, Russian special services or Russian instructors in the east of Ukraine. All of these people are local residents. The fact that these people have taken off masks in the direct sense of the word proves this best of all,” he said.

“What I can tell my Western partners is that these people have nowhere to go. They will not leave. They are the owners of this land. And it is necessary to talk to them,” the Russian president said.

The current instability in Ukraine can be settled only through a dialogue rather than using military methods, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

“Order in the country can be established only through a dialogue, in the course of democratic procedures, rather than through the use of the armed forces, tanks, and aviation,” Putin said during a Q&A session on Thursday.

Using force against people in eastern Ukraine is another serious crime of Kiev authorities – Putin

The decision to send tanks and combat aircraft to eastern Ukraine is another serious crime committed by the authorities in Kiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Instead of realizing that something has gone wrong in the Ukrainian state and making attempts to start dialogue, they have intensified their threats to use force and have even decided to send tanks and aircraft against the civilian population. It is another very serious crime on the part of the current Kiev authorities,” Putin said during his annual call-in live broadcast on Thursday.

How does Vladimir Putin get prepared to the broadcast?

Vladimir Putin reads a lot of information on different issues, freshens up the knowledge of the statistics, looks through the reports of different ministries and departments, Peskov said. “President Putin himself looks through all questions and pays attention to everything that concerns public opinion,” Peskov said. The spokesman also thinks that “a successful broadcast with the President is the one that people watch, listen to, discuss, and the one that results in a range of the President’s commissions.”

The way, the live is broadcasted

The reception of the questions began a week ago and will continue till the end of the broadcast. There are different ways of asking the President a question – via telephone call, SMS text message, e-mail message and via video services. One can ask his or her question via the website of the broadcast, and support the questions asked.

The Crimea and Sevastopol citizens will be able to ask their questions for the first time ever. These regions are provided with special telephone number which is free of charge. However, the Crimea citizens can’t use the common telephone number to ask their questions, but this problem will be fixed next year.

Vladimir Putin will answer the most popular and interesting questions. The studio with several tens of guests will hold several teleconferences with different regions of Russia.

Source: The Voice Of Russia

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