Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed the country Wednesday, saying Russian forces that are allegedly in eastern Ukraine are now withdrawing. He also said he will offer the pro-Russian separatists political concessions.
Moscow, however, says that its troops cannot withdraw from Ukraine because they were never there. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is “satisfied” with the cease-fire that is overall holding steady.
Putin also criticized Ukraine’s recent proposal to join NATO. He said Wednesday that Russia will counter military moves by the U.S. and NATO with an array of new nuclear and conventional weapons.
At the same time, he emphasized that Russia will not enter a new arms race and will tightly control its military budget to avoid overburdening the economy.
Putin accused the West of using the crisis in Ukraine to reinvigorate NATO, warning that Moscow will ponder a response to the alliance’s decision to create a rapid-reaction “spearhead” force to protect Eastern Europe.
The statement appeared to signal that the Russian leader is determined to pursue a tough course in the face of more Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis that has sent Russia-West relations plummeting to their lowest point since the Cold War.
Addressing a Kremlin meeting on weapons modernization, Putin ominously warned the West against getting “hysterical” about Moscow’s re-arming efforts, in view of U.S. missile defense plans and other decisions he said have challenged Russia’s security.
CCTV America’s Kate Parkinson reports from Kiev.
For further analysis on this ongoing crisis, former U.S. diplomat James George Jatras joined CCTV America. Jatras is a director of the American Institute in Ukraine.
Report compiled with information from The Associated Press.