Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he was ready to continue working with the West on security issues to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine.
“We are ready to work further together. We are ready to go down the negotiations track,” Putin told a press conference following talks in Moscow with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Putin said that “of course” Russia does not want war. But it “cannot turn a blind eye” to how Washington and NATO “freely interpret” the principle of the indivisibility of security — that no country should strengthen its security at the expense of others.
Scholz’s meeting with Putin comes a day after he travelled to Kyiv to shore up support for Ukraine during talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Kremlin confirmed a pullback of some forces from Ukraine’s borders but said the move was planned and stressed Russia would continue to move troops across the country as it saw fit.
Western countries for weeks have been sounding the alarm over a build-up of Russian troops around Ukraine and a potential invasion, saying any military action would be met with sweeping economic penalties.
Western countries warned Moscow they could impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 — a pipeline set to double supplies of Russian gas to Europe — if Russia attacks Ukraine.
The pipeline has been criticised by some Western countries as a geopolitical weapon, warnings it will increase Europe dependence on Russian gas.
The pipeline also diverts supplies from an existing route through Ukraine and is expected to deprive the EU’s partner of crucial transit fees from Russia.
Putin said during Tuesday’s press conference that Russia was ready to continue gas supplies via Ukraine “even after 2024”, when the current contract expires.