Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday told the new U.S. and EU ambassadors in blunt language that their countries were responsible for a dramatic deterioration in relations since Russia sent its armed forces into Ukraine last year.
The ambassadors were among 17 who formally presented their diplomatic credentials to Putin at a televised ceremony in the Kremlin.
Putin told new U.S. ambassador Lynne Tracy that U.S. support for a revolution in Ukraine in 2014 had led to the current situation where Russia and Ukraine were in conflict.
He said relations were in “a deep crisis” that was “based on fundamentally different approaches to the formation of the modern world order”.
“Dear Madam Ambassador, I know you may not agree, but I cannot but say that the United States’ use … of such tools as support for the so-called ‘colour revolutions’, support in this regard for the coup in Kyiv in 2014, ultimately led to today’s Ukrainian crisis,” Putin said.
Russia responded to an uprising in Kyiv that drove out a pro-Russian president in 2014 by seizing the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and backing an armed separatist movement that took control of territory in eastern Ukraine.
Putin took a similar line with the new EU ambassador, Roland Galharague, who took up his position in September, telling him that “the European Union initiated a geopolitical confrontation with Russia”.
Putin also urged Denmark to support Russia’s proposal to establish an independent international commission to investigate the blasts that ruptured the Nord Stream undersea pipelines bringing gas from Russia to Germany last September
In his opening remarks, Putin said Russia was open to constructive partnership with every country and would not isolate itself, despite the complex situation in the world.
Relations between Russia and the West were already badly strained before it began what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, but have plunged even further since then.
Russia says it was forced to intervene in Ukraine to stem Western interference that was becoming a threat to its security.
The West and Kyiv dismissed this as a baseless pretext for a war of conquest, and the West imposed a barrage of economic sanctions and began supplying Ukraine with advanced weaponry and other resources to counter Russia’s forces.