Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference in Sochi, Russia earlier this month. File Photo by Evgey Odinokov/EPA-EFE/Sputnik/pool
Dec. 26 (UPI) -- President Vladimir Putin told Russian state media Sunday that the country's responses could "vary" if the United States and NATO refuse to make and stand by security guarantees relating to Ukraine.
"It may vary. It will depend on the proposals that our military experts will make to me," Putin said during the interview, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
Ukraine and Russia have been engaged in ongoing disputes and conflict since the latter re-absorbed Crimea within its borders in 2014. Russia has been conducting drills along its border with Ukraine leading western countries to fear a possible winter invasion of Ukraine.
In 2008, NATO promised to give Ukraine full membership, which Putin has long seen as a threat to Russia. Ukraine joined NATO as a partner in June 2020 but does not currently benefit from collective defense agreements.
Russia sent documents to NATO and the United States on Dec. 17 demanding that the international military alliance deny membership to former Soviet countries including Ukraine and scale back military forces in central and eastern European countries.
Earlier this month, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg indicated that the alliance would not defend Ukraine if Russia were to attack.
"It is important to distinguish between NATO allies and partner Ukraine. NATO allies, there we provide collective defense guarantees, collective defense guarantees, and we will defend and protect all allies. Ukraine is a partner, a highly-valued partner," he said.
The White House said last week that it was ready to begin diplomatic talks with Russia, according to Voice of America. However, the U.S. and NATO have both asserted that any country may join the military alliance.
Putin has said that those talks are expected to begin in January and that Russia hopes "to reach a legally binding outcome of diplomatic talks on the documents," according to TASS.
His comments as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Rossiya 1 state television network Sunday that Putin and President Joe Biden have "built good report and respect each other's positions," according to TASS.
"When they talk, they are very constructive, businesslike and very respectful in laying out for each other the points where our views are directly opposite," Peskov said. "Divergence of opinions doesn't mean the conversation should be disrespectful."
According to TASS, Peskov described Putin and Biden -- as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping -- as "the most experienced politicians on this planet."