Putin again denied that his country had provoked or contributed to any of the fighting in Ukraine that the U.N. says has taken over 6,000 lives in the conversation with journalists from Il Corriere della Sera, according to an English transcript posted Saturday on his official website.
“As for some countries’ concerns about Russia’s possible aggressive actions, I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO,” Putin said. “I think some countries are simply taking advantage of people’s fears with regard to Russia.”
He added, “Let me tell you something – there is no need to fear Russia. The world has changed so drastically that people with some common sense cannot even imagine such a large-scale military conflict today. We have other things to think about, I assure you.”
The ongoing conflict between Ukraine’s Western-backed government and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern section of the former Soviet satellite country will reportedly loom large in Putin’s Wednesday meeting at the Vatican with Pope Francis. The Russian president is also scheduled to appear at Russia Day in Milan at Expo Milano 2015 this week.
Italian journalist Paolo Valentino asked Putin whether Russians feel betrayed by Europe “like a lover abandoned by his mistress” during the wide-ranging discussion.
“In this kind of a relationship with a woman, that is, if you assume no obligations, you have no right to claim any obligations from your partner,” Putin said. “We have never viewed Europe as a mistress. I am quite serious now.”
“We have always proposed a serious relationship. But now I have the impression that Europe has actually been trying to establish material-based relations with us, and solely for its own gain.”
Russian officials have placed the country’s troops along the Ukraine’s border and in rebel-controlled areas “in unprecedented numbers” after clashes that broke out this week despite a February ceasefire, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said at a press conference on Friday, according to BBC News.
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