Despite NATO’s insistence that it is a defensive organization, the US-led military bloc has not always acted that way, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, citing examples of interventions in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
At a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, Putin commented on the possibility of NATO’s expansion into Ukraine and Georgia, which Russia has strongly opposed, claiming that it presents a threat to its national security.
“I’d like to note that they are trying to calm Russia, as before, with the reasoning that NATO is a peaceful and strictly defensive organization, a strictly defensive alliance,” Putin said. “How much that is actually true, many governments’ citizens have been able to learn by experience. I have in mind Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the large-scale operations against Belgrade without the sanction of the UN Security Council. That, of course, was an undertaking very far from what a peaceful organization would do.”
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Western officials and media outlets have been warning for months that Russia could be planning an invasion of Ukraine, which it has repeatedly denied. In December, Moscow sent a set of security proposals to US and NATO leaders requesting guarantees that the bloc would not expand into Ukraine or Georgia, two countries that share borders with Russia. In January, negotiators from the two sides met several times in Europe to discuss de-escalation.