Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the United States and other Western countries could drag with Moscow into a military conflict with the aim to impose sanctions on Russia.
But he added he hoped dialogue on Ukraine would continue in order to avoid “negative scenarios,” including war.
In his first direct public comments on the Ukraine crisis in nearly six weeks, a defiant Putin showed no sign of backing down from security demands that Western countries have called non-starters and a possible excuse to launch an invasion.
He said the U.S. and the West ignored Russia’s security concerns with the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe.
Putin was speaking at a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, one of several NATO leaders trying to intercede with him as the crisis has escalated.
Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, and Western countries say they fear Putin may be planning to invade.
Russia denies this, but has said it could take unspecified military action unless its security demands are met. Western countries say any invasion would bring sanctions on Moscow.
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