MOSCOW ( Associated Press) — Moscow will continue its military crackdown in Ukraine until it achieves its goals, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday mocked Western efforts to surround the Kremlin with sanctions.
Speaking at an annual economic forum in the Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok, Putin said the main purpose of sending troops to Ukraine was to protect civilian populations in the country’s east after eight years of fighting.
“It wasn’t us who started the military action, we’re trying to end it,” Putin said, confirming his argument that he sent troops to the neighboring country to defend separatist areas, which are supported by Moscow. He is fighting alongside Kyiv forces in the conflict that erupted in 2014 following the Russian annexation of Crimea.
“All our actions are aimed at helping the people living in Donbass, this is our duty and we will fulfill it to the end,” he said.
Putin said Russia has strengthened its sovereignty in the face of Western sanctions, which he called limits on aggression.
“Russia opposes the economic, financial and technological aggression of the West,” he said. “I am sure that we have lost nothing and we will not lose anything. The most important advantage is the strengthening of our sovereignty, an inevitable consequence of what is happening.
According to Putin, Russia’s economy and finances have stabilized, consumer price inflation has slowed and unemployment remains low.
“There has been a certain polarization in the world and within the country, but I consider it positive,” he said. “Whatever is unnecessary, whatever is harmful, whatever prevents us from moving forward will be rejected and we will gain momentum because development can only be based on sovereignty.”
In addition, he stressed that Russia would continue to defend its sovereignty against what it described as an attempt by the United States and its allies to maintain its global dominance, adding that “the world should not be based on that country’s order”. who believes himself to be a representative of the Almighty (…) and bases his policies on its perceived uniqueness”.
Putin also ridiculed Western efforts to limit the price of Russian oil and gas, calling the idea “stupid”, while noting that Moscow would not lack customers in Asia: “The demand in global markets is so high. that we would have no problem selling it”.
“Attempts to limit prices by administrative means are just an illusion, rubbish,” he said. “That will only increase prices.”
The Russian president rejected the EU’s argument that his country was using energy as a weapon by cutting off gas supplies to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Putin confirmed the Russian argument that Western sanctions hindered maintenance of the last remaining turbine, which forced the shutdown. And he reiterated that Moscow is ready to “push the button” and begin pumping to send gas through Nord Stream 2 “since yesterday”, which has been paralyzed by the German authorities.