- Putin appears confident, relaxed in hours-long remarks
- Putin’s speech ‘for Freud’, says Ukrainian official
- White House: Remarks show no change in strategic goals
Oct 27 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin showed no regrets on Thursday over his war in Ukraine, insisting the “special military operation” was still achieving its goals and the West’s dominance over the world affairs was coming to an end.
Inveighing against the West for more than three and a half hours during a question-and-answer session at an annual foreign policy conference in Moscow, Putin appeared confident and relaxed, a marked contrast to stiff, formal public appearances and worried about the start in the war.
When asked if there had been any disappointments over the past year, Putin simply replied, “No”, although he also said he still thinks of Russians lost in Ukraine.
The speech contained a familiar litany of grievances against “our Western adversaries”, who he said faced the inevitable collapse of their “hegemony”. Western liberal leaders had undermined “traditional values” around the world, imposing a culture with “dozens of genres, gay parades” on other countries.
Putin accused the West of inciting war in Ukraine and playing a “dangerous, bloody and dirty” game that was wreaking havoc around the world.
“The historic period of the West’s unchallenged domination of world affairs is coming to an end,” said the 70-year-old former KGB spy. “We stand at a historical frontier: ahead of us is probably the most dangerous, most unpredictable and, at the same time, most important decade since the end of the Second World War.”
The conflict, which began eight months ago with an invasion by Russian forces of neighboring Ukraine, has killed thousands, displaced millions, shaken the global economy and reopened the divisions of the time. of the Cold War.
NO MENTION OF ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Later, when drawn more directly into the discussion of the war, Putin made no mention of Russia’s setbacks on the battlefield in recent months, or of the measures he ordered in response. like the call-up of hundreds of thousands of reservists, which led to thousands of men. flee abroad.
When the host of the event made an indirect reference to public concern over whether the operation was “still going as planned”, as Russian officials have maintained from the start, Putin said that his goals had not changed.
Russia was fighting to protect the people of Donbass, he said, referring to an eastern industrial region that includes two of the four Ukrainian provinces he declared annexed last month. Economic sanctions have already had their worst impact and would ultimately make Russia stronger by making its industry more independent, he said.
Fighting has been going on in eastern Ukraine since 2014 between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists.
In his speech, Putin downplayed a nuclear standoff with the West, insisting that Russia had not threatened to use nuclear weapons and had only responded to nuclear “blackmail” from Western leaders. He and other Russian officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks that Russia may use nuclear weapons to protect its territorial integrity, remarks interpreted in the West as implicit threats to use them to defend parts of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed them. Dozens of countries condemned the decision as illegal.
He also repeated Russia’s latest allegation – that Ukraine was planning to use a so-called “dirty bomb” to spread nuclear material, which the US, Britain and France have called of “transparently false”. Putin said the Ukrainians would carry out such an attack to blame Russia.
A suggestion from Kyiv that the Russian indictment could mean Moscow plans to detonate a “dirty bomb” itself was false, he said.
“We don’t need to do that. It wouldn’t make sense to do that,” Putin said.
Russia and NATO are holding annual exercises of their nuclear forces this week, and Russia has given the exercises unusual visibility, showing missiles, submarines and strategic bombers on state television.
Putin’s speech was rejected in Kyiv: “Any speech by Putin can be called ‘for Freud’,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Pololyak tweeted.
“Whoever invaded a foreign country, annexed its land and committed genocide accuses others of violating international law/sovereignty of other countries?”
Putin’s remarks were not hugely new and did not indicate a change in his strategic goals, including in Ukraine, the White House said.
Ground fighting appeared to have slowed in recent days, with Ukrainian officials saying difficult terrain and bad weather had halted their main advance in southern Kherson province.
Russia has ordered the evacuation of civilians from a pocket it holds on the west bank of the mouth of the Dnipro River which runs through Ukraine, but Kyiv says Russia is reinforcing the area with freshly called up reservists.
Russian forces shelled Ukrainian positions along the entire length of the line of contact and built fortifications, including on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said in a Facebook post late Thursday.
Russian forces have targeted more than 15 localities along the frontline, the post said.
Russian forces were suffering from shortages of materials and equipment, including warm winter clothing, which had led to increased theft and looting in Russian-occupied areas, he said.
Russian forces persisted in their attempts to advance on the two fiercest theaters of fighting in the eastern Donetsk region – Bakhmut and Avdiivka, the Ukrainian military said.
Reuters was unable to verify reports from the battlefield.
Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Peter Graff and Grant McCool; Editing by Alex Richardson, Andrew Heavens and Cynthia Osterman
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