Austin denies NATO expansion caused Ukraine conflict

The expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance did not trigger the Ukraine conflict, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, TASS reports.
“I respectfully disagree with your point that the expansion of NATO caused the Ukraine crisis,” he said answering questions at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore, which was broadcast on the Pentagon website.
The US defense secretary blamed the Russian authorities for the Ukraine conflict.
Earlier, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Western countries had done “a lot of bad things” to Russia, deceived Moscow and thereby forced it to start its special military operation. He said that it was the West that deceived Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and that arranged the expansion of NATO. Peskov emphasized, “This is not just an expansion of NATO, this is an expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure to the borders of the Russian Federation.” The Russian presidential press secretary added that “in fact, Western countries have always tried to put pressure on Russia, de facto excluding the possibility of equal cooperation.”