Russian President Vladimir Putin
The entire system of European security has been significantly degraded, while tensions are rising and the risks of a new arms race are becoming real, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.
He made the remarks in an article published in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit to mark the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany.
Russia has sought to develop its relations with the Europeans, but the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's expansion eastwards has led to a rapid increase in mutual mistrust in Europe, Putin said.
Since 1999, 14 more countries, including former Soviet Union republics, have joined NATO, effectively dashing hopes for a continent without dividing lines, he noted.
Putin called it "an ultimatum" that many countries are left with a choice of being either with the collective West or with Russia.
"The entire post-war history of Greater Europe confirms that prosperity and security of our common continent is only possible through the joint efforts of all countries, including Russia," he wrote.
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