The head of NATO is dismissing the latest allegations by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who accused the West of trying to undermine his rule and destabilize his country.
“It’s just another example of the type of propaganda that Russia is doing in many different frameworks,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told VOA during an interview in Washington.
“The truth is what NATO does is a response to the aggressive actions we have seen by Russia in Ukraine,” he said. “We are doing that in a defensive and proportionate way, totally in line with all our international obligations.”
Stoltenberg also called on Russia to lower tensions by meeting its obligations under the February Minsk Agreement, which he insisted was still “the best basis for finding a peaceful solution to the conflict” in Ukraine despite numerous violations.
The NATO Secretary General also criticized Russia for holding what he described as a pattern of snap military exercises, increasing tensions across Europe.
“For us it is important to avoid situations, misunderstandings, accidents that spiral out of control,” Stoltenberg said. “And a large number of snap exercises is not contributing to stability.”
Earlier Thursday, Putin told top security officials with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) it was imperative to counter Western efforts to weaken Russia.
“The situation will change for the better not because we will always be giving in, bending, or talking baby talk with someone,” Mr. Putin said.
Russia and Ukraine signed the Minsk Agreement in February following months of fighting in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.
Still, a NATO military official told VOA earlier this week that Russian troops, including special forces, continue to operate in Eastern Ukraine.
The official also said that over the past few months Russia has “transferred over a thousand heavy weapons to pro-Russian separatists” including tanks, armored vehicles, rocket systems, surface-to-air missiles and artillery.