Coming the day after the Biden-Putin virtual summit - which lasted two hours and the Kremlin described as "constructive" - despite the US president issuing severe warnings over Ukraine, on Wednesday Putin gave fresh remarks underscoring his country's legitimate fears of an American military build-up close to Russia's borders.
Calling for an immediate easing of tensions which were discussed with Biden during the earlier video conference, Putin asserted it would be "criminal" to just sit back and watch Ukraine join NATO.
According to a translation of his words in Russian state media, Putin said that "it would be criminal inaction on our side to spinelessly watch all that's taking place" - referencing the prospect of Kiev's moving toward NATO membership and the prospect of the Western military alliance establishing bases there.
Putin met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Wednesday. He issued the somewhat confrontational words to Washington while standing alongside the Greek PM. Putin laid out that "Russia conducts peace-loving foreign policy, but we have a right to provide for our own safety."
The press conference was also the first time Putin himself commented on his prior day's talks with President Biden:
"The talks were very open, substantive, and constructive. I hope that the American side sees the results the same way. We have the possibility of continuing the dialogue, that's the most important thing."
Putin has lately been calling for Western powers to give "legal guarantees" that NATO would stop expanding toward Russia's borders. Putin reportedly raised this subject with Biden on Tuesday. A Kremlin statement later said Biden agreed to hold lower-level discussions with the Russian government on these "red lines" and pressing concerns.
By the way, is it at all notable that Crimea became part of Russia during the Obama administration, and now Russia is supposedly preparing to invade Ukraine during the Biden administration, but never did either when they had their blackmail-controlled puppet in the White House?— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 8, 2021
Putin had told his US counterpart, "you Americans are worried by our battalions on Russian territory thousands of kilometers from the U.S., while we have genuine concerns about our security, Russia’s security," according to Bloomberg.
Last month, Putin had told a Russian foreign policy conference, "We’re constantly voicing our concerns about this, talking about red lines, but we understand our partners — how shall I put it mildly — have a very superficial attitude to all our warnings and talk of red lines."
Recall too that Russia-NATO communications are at a historical low point - essentially not even happening at all - after Russia closed its diplomatic mission to NATO, following Brussels accusing Russia of running a "spy shop" instead of using it for legitimate diplomatic needs.
The White House said Biden would this week brief America's European and NATO allies on what was said and agreed to during the Putin virtual summit.