Mr Putin said that NATO expansion would force Russia to respond by taking measures to protect its security. But Russia is not making any ultimatums and hopes that no one will make ultimatums to it, the President said. Mr Putin reproached NATO for ignoring Russia’s interests, saying that the alliance is suggesting that Moscow simply look on as it expands.
The President stressed that Russia has taken numerous steps to build confidence and hoped for a similar response from NATO, but has so far yet to see it. Russia will defend its positions, he said, but is always open to cooperation based on equality and mutual trust.
Mr Putin touched on the issue of the United States’ plans to deploy a missile defence system in Europe, saying that NATO cannot ensure its security at the expense of other countries, including Russia. No one can seriously imagine that Iran would be so bold as to attack the United States, the President said. He said that instead of putting pressure on Iran it would be better to examine what can be done to make Tehran more open.
Regarding the question of ending the suspension of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, Mr Putin said that Russia is ready to do this, but only together with the other parties to the treaty.
Mr Putin called on NATO to work together with the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. This cooperation, he said, would, in particular, make it possible to contribute more effectively to the stabilisation process in Afghanistan.
The President said that giving Russian defence industry companies access to the defence markets in the NATO member countries would help to improve operational compatibility between the Russian and NATO armed forces.
Mr Putin reiterated the need to maintain the system of international law and cited the situation in Kosovo as an example of a flagrant violation of international law.
The President held a press conference following the Council meeting.