Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeated his criticism of the expansion of the NATO military alliance, which he has repeatedly used as an excuse for the invasion of Ukraine.
"We have been open, frank and sincere in wanting an open dialogue with the West and we have said many times that the world needs indivisible security and we invited all countries of the world to talk about that," Putin said in his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow.
"But as a response, all we got was a hypocritical, incomprehensible reply, as well as quite substantive, concrete actions — the expansion of NATO — the so-called umbrella of defense of our country and Central Asia."
"They are not going to stop. The threat continues every day," Putin said. "And they're preparing for bloodshed in the Donbas."
The Donbas comprises the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine.
"The elite of the West does not conceal their ambitions, which is to strategically defeat Russia. What does that mean? It means to finish yourself once and for all," Putin said. "They do that by making local conflicts into much wider and bigger ones."
Putin added that the United States in particular sees the conflict in Ukraine "as an anti-Russian project."
"The aim is to seize these historically Russian lands from us," Putin added. "Nothing has changed. It is just a question of a continuation of the same policy."