MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the US and NATO 'ignored' Moscow's key concerns over Ukraine.
Speaking at a news conference following a five-hour meeting in Moscow with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Putin said, "It is already clear -- I informed the Prime Minister about this -- that the fundamental Russian concerns were ignored. We did not see an adequate consideration of our three key requirements," reported CNN.
Putin added that Russia had not seen "adequate consideration of our three key demands regarding NATO expansion, the renunciation of the deployment of strike weapons systems near Russian borders, and the return of the [NATO] bloc's military infrastructure in Europe to the state of 1997 when the Russia-NATO founding act was signed."
The Russian President also accused the US directly of attempting to "draw us into armed conflict" over the Ukraine crisis by using the country as a "tool" for NATO operations. He claimed that Washington's main goal is to force "allies in Europe to impose the very tough sanctions against us," or "draw Ukraine into NATO".
Meanwhile, the US and NATO have said that Putin's demands -- which include a promise to never expand eastward to countries including Ukraine -- violate NATO's open-door policy and are non-starters in negotiations, reported CNN.
Putin did not offer any solutions but did say he was open to more talks. "I hope that this dialogue will continue," he said, adding, "I hope that we will eventually find this solution, although it is not an easy one, and we are aware of this. But what that will be, I'm not ready to say today, of course."
He also reiterated his opposition to the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO, and said Kyiv was attempting to retake Crimea -- the Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia in 2014 -- by military force, potentially bringing the alliance into open conflict with Russia.
"This [Crimea] is sovereign Russian territory, the question is closed for us," he said. "Let's imagine that Ukraine is a NATO country and starts these military operations. Then what, we should fight against the NATO bloc? So, has anyone thought about this? Looks like no."
Diplomats from the US, Russia, Ukraine, NATO and the European Union have been engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activity in recent weeks, reported CNN.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a phone call Tuesday. Following that call, a senior State Department official said Lavrov did not give an indication that Moscow will de-escalate from the border with Ukraine.
Meanwhile, US State Department officials confirmed on Monday that they had "received a written followup from Russia" to a document of proposals the US sent to the Kremlin last week on how to defuse tensions and pave the way for further security talks in response to Russia's demands on security.
Also, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a press conference alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday, reported CNN.
Johnson accused Russia of "holding a gun to Ukraine" and warned that a potential invasion of Ukraine by Russia would be a "political" and "humanitarian disaster."
"The potential invasion completely flies in the face of President Putin's claims to be acting in the interests of the Ukrainian people," Johnson said.
Zelensky said that should a war between Russia and Ukraine start it will be a "big war in Europe," adding that there "will be no occupation of any territory or city in Ukraine... but there will be a bloody tragedy if the invasion of our country starts."