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Putin says Russia has 'nowhere to retreat' after Ukraine

Putin says Russia has nowhere to retreat after Ukraine

December 23, 2021:  President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had no room to retreat in a standoff with the U.S over Ukraine and would be forced into a brutal response unless the West dropped its “aggressive line.”

Putin addressed his remarks to military officials as Russia pressed for an urgent U.S. and NATO reply to proposals it made in the previous week for a binding set of security guarantees from the West.

“What the U.S. is doing in Ukraine is near our door. And they should understand that we have nowhere to retreat to. Do they think we’ll watch idly?” Putin said.

“If the aggressive line of our Western colleagues keeps going, we will take adequate military-technical response measures and react to unfriendly steps.”

Putin did not spell out the nature of these measures. Still, his phrasing mirrored that used previously by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who has warned that Russia will redeploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe in response to what it regards as NATO is planning to do the same.

Russia is rejecting Ukrainian and U.S. accusations that it may be preparing an invasion of Ukraine as coming month by tens of thousands of Russian troops poised within reach of the border.

It says it is pledging from the West, which includes a promise not to conduct NATO military activity in Eastern Europe due to Ukraine’s growing ties threatening its security with the Western alliance and the possibility of NATO missiles being deployed against it on Ukrainian territory.

On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he was ready to meet Russia for “direct talks, tête-à-tête, we don’t mind in what format.” But Moscow has repeatedly said that it sees no point in such a meeting without clarifying the plan.

A Kremlin statement said that Putin stressed in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron that reconvening the four-power Normandy group, which brings together the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany, would require concrete steps Kyiv to implement existing peace agreements. Ukraine says it is Russia and its proxies that refuse to engage.

Western powers are keen to show Russia they are solid in their support of Ukraine and NATO; Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz also spoke by phone with Putin.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken ruled out an in-person meeting between Biden and Putin. “I think we have to see if, in the first instance, there’s any progress diplomatically,” Blinken said in a news briefing when asked if an in-person summit can happen to try to ease the tensions.

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