As his forces struggled in Ukraine and his economy strained under sanctions, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday struck a defiant tone, arguing that the West failed “economic, financial and technological aggression” against Russia and his country has only gained from global outrage over his invasion.
“We have nothing to lose and we will lose nothing,” Putin told an economic conference in the eastern city of Vladivostok.
Putin’s statement dismissed the human toll that Russia has faced in its arduous campaign since he launched an invasion in February. His own Defense Department has acknowledged hundreds of deaths, though that total has not been updated for months. Western estimates are much higher: The United States estimated last month that 80,000 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded in the war.
Putin also said next week he would meet an increasingly important ally, President Xi Jinping of China, as the Russian leader tries to expand economic ties with Asia to counter the impact. of Western punishments. And he asserts that the invasion, now in its seventh month, has raised Moscow’s international stature and that a crackdown on dissent is purging Russia of “harmful” elements. including journalists who have left the country since the conflict began.
“Of course, a certain polarization is taking place – both in the world and domestically – but I believe this will only be beneficial,” Putin said. “Because everything that is unnecessary, harmful, and everything that prevents us from moving forward will be rejected.”
He also asserted that his interpretation of the war in Ukraine was the culmination of an effort to overthrow an unjust world order led by the United States, saying that Western countries were “trying to maintain an unjust world order.” the old world itself only benefits them.”
Putin’s comments come as his forces face an increasingly difficult situation on the frontline in Ukraine, where they have been unable to capture a major town for more than two months. Ukraine is waging a counter-offensive that its officials say is showing early signs of success.
“All of our actions are aimed at helping the people living in the Donbas,” Putin said, referring to the area of eastern Ukraine that his forces have sought to conquer, vowing to fulfill the “duty to the end”.
The Russian president tried to appear confident that Western efforts to isolate Moscow would inevitably fail. Participating on stage with the leader of Myanmar and the prime minister of Mongolia, and with the third senior member of the Chinese Communist Party, he pointed out that Russia could redirect trade flows to Asia.
“No matter how much someone wants to isolate Russia, it can’t be done,” Putin said. “You just have to look at the map.”
Putin said that Russia’s currency and financial markets were stabilized, inflation was under control and unemployment had been kept at “record lows”. His colorful claims, however, have been countered by his own economic policymakers, who say it will take years for the Russian economy to recover to pre-war levels and that Its growth will be hampered as long as Western sanctions remain in effect. Many analysts also anticipate further shocks as European countries push ahead with plans to sharply reduce their oil purchases from Russia by the end of the year.
Mr. Putin used part of his speech to question a rare example of cooperation between Russia and Ukraine: a United Nations-brokered agreement allowing Ukraine’s grain exports through the Sea. Black.
He accused Western countries of “cheating” by diverting ships away from the world’s poorest countries, offering no evidence to support that claim. Putin said that he would consult with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on revising the terms of the agreement to limit the flow of grain to Western nations.
U.S. officials called Putin’s comments misleading, saying a large amount of the grain had reached needy countries outside of Europe. Last week, a World Food Program ship carrying 23,300 tons of Ukrainian grain arrived in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, and a second ship with 37,000 tons of grain arrived. Departure to Yemen.
A senior US official said Putin’s remarks could be seen as the latest attempt by the Russian leader to boost ties between Western countries and developing nations in the south of the globe. demand, potentially adding pressure to end the fighting on terms favorable to Moscow.
Michael Crowley contribution report.