Russia not attacking west, just defending its interests - Putin
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Putin said that the only contribution Russia made toward the current period of tension “is an increasingly strong stance in defending its national interests.”
“We are not attacking anyone in the political sense,” he said. “We are only defending our interests… The displeasure of our Western partners, particularly the Americans, comes from that.”
Russia’s actions, described as aggressive in the West, are a response to what Western nations are doing, Putin said.
“Russia in the 1990s completely stopped the long-range bomber flights that the Soviet Union used to carry out,” he said. “But American strategic bombers with nuclear weapons still flew. Why? Against whom? Who was being threatened?”
Putin’s comments came in response to a question from the BBC’s veteran world news editor, John Simpson, who asked Putin whether the current crisis in relations between Russia and the West was a result of Russia’s aggression. Simpson cited the increased patrols of the Russian Air Force in international airspace as an example of such aggression. The exchange happened at Putin’s annual Q&A session in Moscow.
The US has been ignoring Russian interests despite Moscow’s complaining about this many times, the president said.
“Take the anti-ballistic missile system. Who unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty, which was a cornerstone of the international security system? Was that us? No, the US did it. They unilaterally withdrew and are creating threats toward us,” Putin said.
Unlike the United States, which has dozens of military bases around the world, Russia has only two, Putin said. And those are in places where Russia’s national security is directly threatened, in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the president said.
“And you are telling now that we have an aggressive policy? Do you have common sense? Do we place our troops at US borders? Who is placing NATO troops, military infrastructure closer to us? Does anyone listen to us, talk to us about it? No, nothing. There is always the same response: it’s not your business,” Putin said.
Putin added that Russia simply wants to be treated as equal partners by the West.
“We want to develop normal relations on security, counterterrorism. We will work together on nuclear non-proliferation. We will work on threats like illegal drugs, organized crime, dangerous infectious diseases, including Ebola. We will do it all together as we will cooperate on the economy, as long as our partners want that,” Putin said.