Ukraine crisis: Russia ‘open for diplomatic solutions but…’: says Vladimir Putin

Updated on Feb 23, 2022 12:35 PM IST

Russia's recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as 'independent entities' has invited sanctions from the West, with Canada and the US among those to impose measures

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a Security Council meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)(AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a Security Council meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)(AP)

Russia is ready for "diplomatic solutions" but the country's interests are "non-negotiable", President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday amid rising tension with the West over the Ukraine situation.

"Our country is always open for direct and honest dialogue (and) for the search for diplomatic solutions to the most complex problems," Putin said in a video address to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day, a public holiday in Russia.

"(But) the interests of Russia, the security of our citizens, are non-negotiable for us," he said.

Russia's recognition Monday of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as 'independent entities' triggered global alarm, with western nations viewing it as one step from full-scale military conflict.

Putin said: "I consider it necessary to take a long-overdue decision: To immediately recognize independence and sovereignty of Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic."

In his address he also offered an alternative version of Ukraine's history - one in which it was always a part of Russia. While that serves his purpose, it is also a fiction. 

Ukraine has its own thousand-year history. 

These comments were followed by Russian lawmakers authorising Putin to use military force outside the country - a move viewed with alarm after warnings from US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and NATO, among others.

In his address, Putin congratulated Russia's military and said he was certain of their "professionalism" and that they would stand up for the country's interests. 

And in comments likely to further unsettle the West, he praised the battle-readiness of the Russian army and said the country would continue to develop state-of-the-art weapons.

"We will continue to develop advanced weapon systems, including hypersonic and those based on new physical principles, and expand the use of advanced digital technologies and elements of artificial intelligence," he added. 

"Such complexes are truly the weapons of the future, which significantly increase the combat potential of our armed forces," he said, according to a report by news agency AFP.

On Tuesday Biden announced the "first tranche" of sanctions against Russia, including steps to starve the country of financing, saying Moscow had started an invasion of Ukraine. 

"We're implementing sanctions on Russia's sovereign debt. That means we've cut off Russia's government from Western financing," he said, threatening tougher steps if aggression persists.

EU foreign ministers met Tuesday night to consider sanctions of their own, including financial penalties levied against Russian banks. 

The UK has already announced its first tranche, as has Canada; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Russia's actions "an attack on democracy".

With input from AFP, Reuters

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