Vladimir Putin believes Russia is not to blame for the war in Ukraine, adding both countries are "sharing a tragedy".

During a televised address with senior military officials, the Russian president said he continued to see Ukraine as a "brotherly nation".

He claimed the conflict was "the result of the policy of third countries" and not down to Russian policy.

The theory, which implies Western expansion is the cause, has been repeatedly dismissed outside Russia.

He said: "For years, we tried to build good-neighbourly relations with Ukraine, offering loans and cheap energy, but it did not work.

"There's nothing to accuse us of. We've always seen Ukrainians as a brotherly people and I still think so. "What's happening now is a tragedy, but it's not our fault."

President Putin added there was no limit to the amount of money Russia was willing to spend. He claimed the West had "brainwashed" post-Soviet republics, starting with Ukraine.