Source Global Times

BEIJING, China--In his year end press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin lambasted the West's brazen lies and stressed the country was forced to make tough decisions as it has no space for concessions amid soaring tensions with the West over Ukraine, which have sparked fears of an all-out war.

Asked by a SkyNews correspondent what guarantee Russia can provide that it would not attack Ukraine or any other sovereign state, the Russian leader said that it was not Russia that created threats to other countries, TASS reported.

"Have we approached the borders of the US or Britain? They have approached ours. And now they say 'Ukraine will be a NATO member,' " he explained.

"You are demanding some guarantees from me. But it is you that must provide guarantees. You must do that at once, now, and not keep talking about this for decades," Putin said.

Many Chinese people admire Putin's courage to defend the national interests of Russia, since US military forces have also approached regions like the South China Sea and Taiwan Straits to threaten China's sovereignty and security, and many web users hope China could be as tough as Russia against the US.

However, Russian-style diplomacy and military action against Western pressure are unique and China has its own way of handling the challenge, said Chinese experts, adding that the tensions in Europe around Russia's border regions are much more serious, because they're too close to Russia's capital, and Russia has no room to compromise and no choice but to be tough and straight.

"Putin and his country were being very sincere and friendly to the West in the 1990s and Russians have tried everything to improve ties with the West. But eventually, they found that the US and the Western world don't want to have good ties with them. All the West wants to do is to keep weakening Russia, profit from the collapse of the Soviet Union, until Russians lose hope to be a major power forever," said a Beijing-based expert on international relations who asked not to be named.

He said, "Putin and Russia's unhappy experiences with the West just told many of us a lesson - that the problems we have with the West are never about ideology, culture or human rights…They're always about power. If you are a 'nobody' with no influence and unable to say no to them, the West wouldn't care about what you do in your countries. But if you are able to balance their hegemony and fend off their invasions and bullying, then you will become evil in their propaganda."

Russia said earlier it wanted a legally binding guarantee that NATO would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, part of a wish list of security guarantees it wants to negotiate with the West, Reuters reported.

It is the first time that Moscow laid out in detail demands that it says are essential for lowering tensions in Europe and defusing a crisis over Ukraine.

Yang Jin, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that facing questions from hundreds of journalists, Putin has always showed a sharp and tough stance against the West as he is dedicated to safeguarding Russia's sovereignty and national interests by drawing clear redlines.

This is similar to China, when it comes to questions on China's core interests such as the Taiwan question, Yang noted.  

Despite the fierce response to the US and NATO, Putin also showed his soft persona and firm commitment to solving domestic issues. He also mentioned China many times, stressing Russia and China trust each other and their cooperation is a stabilising factor in the international arena.

"It's an absolutely comprehensive partnership of a strategic nature that hasn't had precedents in history, at least between Russia and China," he said during his annual news conference. "This hard day-to-day work benefits Chinese and Russian people and is a serious stabilising factor on the international stage."

Putin also stressed he has always been against the politicisation of sports, noting that the US "boycott" aims to curb China's development. "This decision is unacceptable and erroneous. I spoke with a former US president, and he told me that the boycotts of the Olympics in Los Angeles and Moscow were a big mistake, made by the US as well. But the US continues to make the very same mistake. What caused that? It is an attempt to curb China's growth," the president stated.

Chinese experts noted Putin spoke highly of the country's cooperation with China in his press conference and showed the West how unshakable China and Russia relations are.

Putin said, "They (the US) cannot hold back the development of China. The Chinese economy is already larger than the US economy in terms of purchasing power parity. China will inevitably become the world's top economy in all respects. But you have to understand this."