Putin says he wants talks with the West to guarantee NATO won’t expand east

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MOSCOW, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he wanted to hold talks with Western countries to obtain guarantees that NATO will not expand eastward.

He added that Moscow was taking adequate measures in response to NATO actions.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it could not de-escalate tensions with the West over Ukraine due to a large concentration of Ukrainian forces near its border.

U.S., NATO and Ukrainian officials have expressed concerns over unusual Russian troop movements near Ukraine. Moscow has said its posture is purely defensive.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesperson earlier on Wednesday accused Ukraine of deploying half of its army or 125,000 troops to Donbass, a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have been battling Russia-backed separatists since 2014.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated that accusation and said Moscow was seriously worried about the large number of Ukrainian troops near Russia.

He said Russia was concerned that Kyiv might attempt to solve its conflict with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine by force.

“Russia cannot take any measures to de-escalate,” Peskov told a briefing. “We have seen the messages that more than 120,000 (Ukrainian) troops have been deployed to the conflict zone. This raises our fears that sentiments (in Ukraine) in favour of a military solution to the Donbass problem could prevail,” Peskov said.

“This is very dangerous adventurism. All this causes us deep concern because this is happening in the immediate vicinity of our borders.”

Photo – Russian President Vladimir Putin. EPA-EFE/ALEXEI DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK/ KREMLIN POOL

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