MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The crisis in Ukraine was caused by attempts on the part of the United States and its allies to make other countries fit into their agenda, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

Putin stressed in an interview with the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper that “the Ukrainian crisis was not caused by the Russian Federation. It has emerged in response to the attempts of the USA and its western allies who considered themselves ‘winners’ of the cold war to impose their will everywhere”.

The military conflict in Ukraine started last spring, when Kiev launched a special operation against independence supporters in the southeast, who refused to recognize the new coup-installed government.According to Putin, the United States and a number of EU member states supported the February coup d’état in Kiev and the ongoing conflict in the country is fuelled by the Kiev “war party”, which is “supported from the outside”.

Putin explained that “in the framework of the EU Eastern Partnership Program there have been attempts to tear states which had been parts of the former USSR off Russia and to prompt them to make an artificial choice ‘between Russia and Europe'”.

“The Ukrainian crisis has become a high point of these negative trends,” Putin emphasized.The Russian president added that his country has “repeatedly warned the USA and its western allies about harmful consequences of their interference in Ukrainian domestic affairs”, but the West did not listen to what Russia had to say.

The West has repeatedly accused Russia of being involved in the Ukrainian conflict and even went as far as to say that Russia was providing Ukrainian militia with weapons, but the claims have never been supported with facts.

Meanwhile representatives of the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR) have claimed that US and NATO-marked weaponry and shells have been found in areas abandoned by Kiev troops.

Putin stressed in the interview with Al-Ahram that NATO’s promises of non-expansion to the East “have turned out to be hollow statements”.

“We have seen how NATO’s infrastructure was moving closer and closer towards Russian borders and how Russian interests were being ignored,” the Russian president said.Following the reunification of Crimea with Russia in March last year, NATO began boosting its military presence along its eastern borders and suspended all practical cooperation with Russia, limiting contact to ambassadorial and higher levels.

Last week, NATO announced that its Rapid Response Force would be increased from 13,000 to 30,000 people, and six new command posts would be created in six NATO member-states neighbouring Russia.

Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over NATO’s military build-up in Eastern Europe and has stressed that it threatens regional and global stability.

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