There will be no winners if NATO goes to war against Russia, President Vladimir Putin said, responding to a French reporter’s question on Monday in Moscow.
Putin’s remarks came during a joint press conference with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at the Kremlin, claiming that Ukraine joining NATO would lead to Kyiv re-taking Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
“Do you want to fight with Russia? Do you want France to fight with Russia?” he demanded of reporters. “That’s what will happen. And there will be no winners.”
Moscow and Kyiv have been locked in conflict since hostilities in the eastern Donbas region broke out in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
Russia has amassed thousands of troops near Ukraine’s borders, prompting fears it could be planning another military offensive against the former Soviet republic.
The U.S. and its allies have warned of an imminent attack and threatened Russia with “severe consequences.”
Moscow, however, has denied it is preparing to invade Ukraine and said its troops are there for exercises.