Russian President Vladimir Putin accused NATO of “destroying” all means of dialogue and said Moscow needs to obtain serious security guarantees from Western countries. In a speech to foreign policy officials, he dubbed talks to resolve the conflict with Ukraine unproductive and called Russia’s ties with the US “unsatisfactory”. He added, however, he was open for conversation. It follows this morning’s announcement of a phone call between Russia’s and the US’s security officials, who spoke in preparation for a crunch Putin-Biden summit. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, and Jake Sullivan, US National Security Adviser, held “high-level” discussions ahead of a meeting — the second this year — between Mr Putin and US President Joe Biden.
Emphasising that his June summit Geneva with Mr Biden, Mr Putin said in his wide-ranging speech: “Yes, in many bilateral and international questions our interests, evaluations, positions do indeed diverge, as everyone well knows, sometimes radically.
“However, I want to say once again, we are open to contacts and exchanges of opinion, constructive dialogue.”
The Ukraine conflict is at the heart of the conversations surrounding Russia.
NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday: “In recent weeks, we have seen large and unusual concentrations of Russian forces close to Ukraine’s borders.
“Any further provocation or aggressive actions by Russia would be of serious concern.”
It came in response to satellite imagery showing around 1,000 military vehicles near the Russian town of Yelnya, about 250 km north of the Ukrainian border, which confirmed recent reports that Mr Putin is once more massing troops and military equipment after a major build-up in the region this spring.
In his speech on Thursday, Putin said talks on the settlement of the Ukraine conflict are moving to a “dead end”.
He also accused the West of using the migrant crisis on the Belarus-Poland border as a tool to put pressure on Minsk.
The EU views Moscow as an ally to Minsk in its “orchestration” of the migrant crisis as a form of retaliation against the bloc for the sanctions it imposed on the former Soviet country in response to the disputed election victory of Alexander Lukashenko last year.
Thousands of Middle Eastern refugees are stranded at the border. Brussels says Belarus is luring them in to then push them into the EU through Poland.
Mr Putin has confirmed he plans to tighten relations with Belarus.
He also said Russia is to “beef up security” at its southern borders in the face of developments in Afghanistan.