Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that the U.S. and its allies have ignored Russia’s key security demands as the standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine shows no signs of easing. 

The Russian leader’s first public comments since December on the crisis, which has threatened European security, came as Moscow was studying the U.S. and NATO’s response to its security demands and the world was waiting for Putin’s next move on Ukraine. 

During a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban following their meeting in the Kremlin, Putin said it was clear the West has ignored Russia’s demands that NATO not expand to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations, refrain from deploying offensive weapons near Russian borders and roll back deployments to Eastern Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, right, during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow on Tuesday.Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik / Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

The demands, issued by the Kremlin in December, were rejected by Washington and NATO as nonstarters, but they gave written responses to Moscow last week. Russia has yet to respond formally.

The U.S. and Western allies have said Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, prompting fears of an invasion. Moscow has repeatedly denied planning an attack, and Washington and its allies have threatened swift and punishing financial penalties if it does invade.

Putin has not spoken publicly about the standoff over Ukraine since Dec. 23 as diplomats from Russia and the West have tried to de-escalate the crisis, without any breakthroughs.

Putin’s remarks on Tuesday reflected his view that Russia needed to defend itself from an aggressive United States. He said Washington doesn’t have Ukraine’s best interests at heart and is instead pursuing its main goal to “restrain the development of Russia,” using Ukraine as a “tool.”

The West, he added, has “conned” Russia by reneging on its promises in the early 1990s that NATO would not expand eastward.

But Moscow remains open to more talks with the West, Putin said, adding that he hopes for an eventual solution that would take every party’s concerns into account.

Putin’s comments follow a phone call between Washington’s and Moscow’s top diplomats on Tuesday.

On the call, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the United States’ response to Russia’s demands, the State Department said in a news release. Blinken stressed Washington’s willingness to continue “a substantive exchange” with Russia on mutual security concerns, the department’s spokesman, Ned Price, said in the release.

The secretary of state also re-emphasized the U.S. “commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Price said.

Blinken also told Lavrov that it was time for Moscow to withdraw its troops if it is sincerely not planning to invade, another senior State Department official said.

“If President Putin truly does not intend war or regime change, the secretary told Foreign Minister Lavrov, then this is the time to pull back troops and heavy weaponry,” the official added. 


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