Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that his country is open to “direct and honest” dialogue amid increased tensions over its military actions in eastern Ukraine.
“Our country is always open to direct and honest dialogue, for the search for diplomatic solutions to the most complex problems,” Putin said in a video address to mark the nation’s Defender of the Fatherland Day.
“The interests of Russia, the security of our citizens are non-negotiable for us,” he added. “So, we will continue to strengthen and modernize our army and navy, striving to increase their effectiveness, so they are fitted out with the most cutting-edge equipment.”
Putin’s latest comments come as the U.S. an allies leveled sanctions against Russia in response to Russia’s deployment of troops to regions in eastern Ukraine.
Russian forces entered the region earlier this week in what Putin claimed was fa “peacekeeping” operation. He later acknowledged two of Ukraine’s separatist regions as independent states, further igniting Western fears of an invasion.
Biden on Tuesday blasted Russia’s actions, calling Russia’s troops on Ukraine soil the “beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
Several Western countries have begun to levy sanctions against Russia and Biden promised that they will “cut off Russia’s government from Western financing.”