Russia is ready for “diplomatic solutions” but the country’s interests are “non-negotiable”, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday as the country finds itself pitted against the West over Moscow’s advances in Ukraine.

“Our country is always open for direct and honest dialogue, for the search for diplomatic solutions to the most complex problems,” he said, while adding, “The interests of Russia, the security of our citizens, are non-negotiable for us,” according to a report by AFP.

Also Read: Russia to evacuate its diplomats from Ukraine amid tensions

The statement comes a day after Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk (collectively known as Donbas), as independent entities and deployed troops for ‘peacekeeping’. The Russian upper house voted unanimously, allowing the President to send forces abroad, a move that could trigger an invasion in Ukraine.  

Speaking in a video address to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day on Wednesday, Putin congratulated the country and said he was sure of the military’s commitment to stand up to the national interests. He added that Moscow would continue to develop state-of-the-art weapons. 

“We will continue to develop advanced weapon systems, including hypersonic and those based on new physical principles, and expand the use of advanced digital technologies and elements of artificial intelligence. Such complexes are truly the weapons of the future, which significantly increase the combat potential of our armed forces,” he said.

Also Read: Ukraine crisis: Sanctions against Russia unanimously approved by European Union

Meanwhile, several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Japan have announced their first sanctions against Russia in retaliation to its move. In an address from the White House, US President Joe Biden described Russia Putin’s recognition of the breakaway states as independent as the beginning of an invasion. He promised that more sanctions would be coming if Putin proceeds further.

Also Read: Putin’s actions are beginning of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine: Biden

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a press conference that Russia was “behaving like thugs and bullies, and they should be called out.”

Germany, on the other hand, has suspended the certification process for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline after Russia recognized separatist-held regions in eastern Ukraine, with the West fearing a full-scale invasion is next, reported AP.