SHAFAQNA – Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow is willing to fight terrorism in cooperation with the rest of the world, criticizing the West for having contributed to an upsurge in terrorism with military interventions in Iraq and Libya.
“We are faced with common threats, and we still want all countries, both in Europe and the whole world, to join their efforts to combat these threats, and we are still striving for this,” Putin said in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, published on Monday.
“I refer not only to terrorism, but also to crime, trafficking in persons, environmental protection, and many other common challenges,” he said.
As part of its fight against terrorism, Russia has been conducting airstrikes against Daesh terrorists in Syria since September 30 last year. The aerial campaign was launched on a request from Damascus.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Russian president censured NATO’s expansion toward Russian borders since the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991, and lashed out at a so-called anti-missile shield being set up by the United States in Europe. Putin said the Western expansion has been aggravating international crises.
“NATO and the USA wanted a complete victory over the Soviet Union. They wanted to sit on the throne in Europe alone. But now they are sitting there, and we are talking about all these crises we would otherwise not have,” Putin said.
Regarding the crisis in eastern Ukraine, he said that all the essential tasks that remain to be done under the Minsk Agreements for Ukraine are those commitments undertaken by Kiev. The second and last one of the agreements was reached between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia forces fighting the government in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, in February last year.
“Everyone says that the Minsk Agreements must be implemented and then the sanctions issue may be reconsidered,” Putin said, referring to Western sanctions imposed on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. “This is beginning to resemble the theater of the absurd because everything essential that needs to be done with regard to implementing the Minsk Agreements is the responsibility of the current Kiev authorities.”
Putin also drew attention to a clause in the peace deal that required Kiev to introduce constitutional reforms by the end of 2015, calling this “the main, the key issue in the settlement process.”
On top of the reforms, the Minsk agreement introduced measures such as a ceasefire and the pullout of heavy weapons; however, the two sides have repeatedly accused each other of delays in implementing as well as of violating the truce.
The US and the European Union (EU) have imposed several sets of economic sanctions against Russia over the conflict since early 2014. The Western countries accuse Moscow of having a hand in the conflict, an accusation denied by Russia.