President Vladimir Putin seeks talks with the US and NATO to draft international guarantees for Moscow's security as tensions prevail on the Ukraine-Russia border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he wants "immediate" talks with the US and NATO over security guarantees, as tensions soar between Moscow and the West over Ukraine.
In Tuesday's phone call with the Finnish president — whose country has traditionally served as a middle ground between Russia and the West — Putin said he wanted security talks to begin without delay.
He told President Sauli Niinsto that Moscow wants "to immediately launch negotiations with the United States and NATO in order to develop international legal guarantees for the security of our country," the Kremlin said in a statement.
Russia's demands, it said, included stopping NATO from expanding east and the deployment of weapons in neighbouring states, including Ukraine.
Putin reiterated the same demands in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron later on Tuesday.
In his call with the Finnish president, Putin also accused the Ukrainian leadership of increasingly using "heavy weapons and attack drones" against pro-Russia rebels in its separatist east.
Tens of thousands of Russian troops are reportedly stationed near the borders of ex-Soviet Ukraine, where the West accuses the Kremlin of backing pro-Moscow separatists since 2014.
Russia could act 'militarily'
US President Joe Biden last week warned Putin of "sanctions like he's never seen" should Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border launch an attack.
The EU and the G7 met in recent days to coordinate what they warn would be an unprecedented economic sanctions regime if Russia attacks.
Putin's comments come a day after Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned Moscow could act militarily if the talks it demands do not materialise.
"The lack of progress towards a political-diplomatic solution to this problem will lead to the fact that we will respond militarily," Ryabkov told the RIA Novosti state news agency.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also told his new German counterpart Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday of the "necessity to provide our country with security guarantees" against NATO expansion, Moscow said.
Berlin holds one of the most important cards in the sanctions deck if it decides that Putin's actions warrant blocking the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.
French warship in Black Sea
Tensions continued to soar on Tuesday, with Russia saying it was monitoring a French warship near its borders in the Black Sea.
Putin has accused the West of provoking tensions in the Black Sea, a sensitive region for Russia, which controls the Crimean peninsula after annexing it from Ukraine in 2014.
Kiev has been fighting a pro-Russia insurgency in its eastern regions since the annexation.
The conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives.