Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Ukrainian territory is used by third countries to pose a threat to Russia.
“We want to improve our relations with all our neighbors. The situation is different in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the territory of this country is used by third countries to pose a threat to Russia,” Putin told his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev during a meeting in Moscow.
Stating that he will inform Aliyev about the developments in Ukraine, Putin said: “After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia recognized all the new geopolitical realities and, as you know, we are actively working to strengthen our communication with independent states, with all the countries that emerged in the post-Soviet space.”
He added that “the speculations that Russia will re-establish the empire within the same imperial borders are absolutely not true.”
The Russian president described the change in power that took place as a result of protest demonstrations in Ukraine in 2013 as a “coup.”
Putin announced Russia’s recognition of the regions in a speech on Monday, during which he also attacked Ukraine’s government and the US and accused the West of ignoring Moscow’s core security concerns.
Along with Russia’s military buildup, tensions have recently risen dramatically in eastern Ukraine, with reports of a growing number of cease-fire violations, multiple shelling incidents, and the civilian evacuations from the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The US and its European allies have said Russia is setting the stage to invade Ukraine after amassing over 100,000 troops and heavy equipment in and around its neighbor.
Russia has denied that it is preparing an invasion, instead accusing Western countries of undermining its security through NATO’s expansion towards its borders.
In 2014, Moscow began supporting separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained ever since. The conflict has taken more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.
30th anniversary of diplomatic ties
During the meeting at the Kremlin Palace, Putin expressed his pleasure to host Aliyev and thanked him for accepting his invitation.
Reminding that Aliyev’s visit coincided with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Azerbaijan, Putin said a declaration on alliance activities between the two countries would be signed today. He added that the declaration marks a “new stage” in the development of relations.
Despite some issues that have arisen, such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Russian president believes that the point reached now is satisfactory.
Certain agreements have been reached not only to ensure the safety of all people there but also to develop commercial and economic ties and remove obstacles in the way of transportation lines, he added.
Underlining that Russia will do everything to ensure that this process progresses and develops peacefully, he said Russia and other neighbors are in favor of resolving all problems, including transportation lines.
Regarding economic relations, he said trade volume has risen by more than 16% last year despite the pandemic. “Our economic ties are very diverse and this creates good preconditions for further progress,” he added.
For his part, Aliyev thanked Putin for the invitation, indicating the dynamic development of the countries’ relations.
He stated that the alliance declaration will benefit both bilateral relations and regional security and that they value the friendship and good neighborly relations established with Russia over the years.
“This document will play an important role in our future bilateral relations. Our political relations have always been developing positively and will continue to reach the highest level from now on,” he said.
He added that Russia played an important role in ending the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“Russia also plays an important role in the process of creating opportunities for normalization between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We appreciate this,” he added.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar
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