Russia is no threat to the West, said the Russian president Vladimir Putin in an interview on Saturday, in which he also made it clear that he still respects the peace agreement with Ukraine.
- I would like to say that there is no reason to be afraid of Russia. The world has changed so much that no sane person can imagine a major military conflict today, Putin said in the interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
- Only a sick person, and then only in his sleep, could imagine that Russia would attack NATO, he continued.
The interview was given in connection with Putin's visit to Italy next week, when Putin also will be received by Pope Francis in the Vatican.
To the Italian newspaper he made it clear that Russia is only defending itself against threats from abroad. He pointed out that NATO countries' military spending is ten times as high as Russia's, and that the US military budget is the largest.
To ensure a strategic balance, he said that Russia will develop the necessary weapons systems to withstand missiles in the western missile systems.
Regarding the crisis in Ukraine, Putin said that he stands firmly on the peace agreement which was signed in Minsk in February, and he accused the authorities in Kiev of not be willing to put it into practice and enter into dialogue with the separatists.
He urged the West to persuade the Ukrainian authorities to enter negotiations with the separatists, to establish autonomy for the rebel controlled areas, with a new electoral law and an amnesty for the rebels.
Relations between East and West is the coldest since the Cold War because of the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the intervention and support for the pro- Russian rebels in Ukraine.
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