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Amid fears Russia will invade Ukraine, Putin points finger at U.S. and NATO in marathon news conference

“Not Russia but the West should give guarantees — and immediately, now, rather than bury it for decades, and under the soft talk about the need for security for all to do what they planned,” Putin said. “Are we threatening anyone?”

In an annual, marathon news conference Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, facing a television audience across Russia, said the West was to blame for tensions on the Ukraine border and fears of war, reports the Washington Post.

Russia has massed some 100,000 troops, along with military hardware, on its border with Ukraine, preparing what Western officials have warned could be a full-scale attack on its southwestern neighbor. In one of Putin’s highest-profile, public-facing events of the year, an opportunity to sway his domestic audience, Putin said Russia would rather not fight a war, and doubled down on his claim that Russia is facing a threat from the West — and not the other way around.

He was twice given the opportunity to state his military intentions toward Ukraine. He did not say definitively that Russia would not invade. He instead reiterated his demand for a promise in writing that NATO would not seek to expand eastward.

“We need to think about how Russia is going to live,” he added, ominously. “Are we supposed to always look behind our shoulder and wait?”

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