Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country has gained, not lost, from the conflict in Ukraine because it was embarking on a new sovereign path that would restore its global status.
Vladimir Putin said this while delivering a speech at the plenary session of the 2022 Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok, Russia on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022.
The conflict in Ukraine, which Putin calls a “special military operation”, is a turning point in history when Russia finally threw off the humiliations which accompanied the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, according to Putin
In an attempt to underscore Russia’s tilt towards Asia, Putin, speaking to the Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian Pacific city of Vladivostok, said that the West was failing while Asia was the future.
Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and in recent days have taken back some villages in Kherson occupied by Russia.
When asked by a moderator if anything had been lost from the conflict, Putin said Russia had gained and would emerge stronger and better..
“We have not lost anything and will not lose anything,” said Putin, Russia’s paramount leader since 1999.
“Everything that is unnecessary, harmful and everything that prevents us from moving forward will be rejected.”
“In terms of what we have gained, I can say that the main gain has been the strengthening of our sovereignty, and this is the inevitable result of what is happening now,” Putin said.
He added: “This will ultimately strengthen our country from within.”
He however, acknowledged that the conflict had unleashed “a certain polarization” in both the world and in Russia.
Putin’s assessment of Russian gains did not take account of NATO’s huge build-up of forces in eastern Europe and its planned admission of Sweden and Finland as members. Preventing NATO expansion was one of his stated objectives for intervening in Ukraine.
He also brushed aside the impact of sanctions that have starved Russian industry of key components like microchips, cut Russians off from international payment systems and led to the departure of thousands of Western companies like McDonalds, Starbucks and google from Russia.
The economy would contract by “around 2 per cent or a little more” this year and the budget would be in surplus, he said.
Putin, who turns 70 in October, said that the West was failing because a futile and aggressive attempt to isolate Russia with sanctions was destroying the global economy just as Asia was rising to claim the future.
The United States and its allies imposed the most severe sanctions in modern history on Russia for its actions in Ukraine. Putin says the sanctions are a declaration of economic war.
“I am speaking of the West’s sanctions fever, with its brazen, aggressive attempt to impose models of behaviour on other countries, to deprive them of their sovereignty and subordinate them to their will,” Putin said.
“In an attempt to resist the course of history, Western countries are undermining the key pillars of the world economic system built over centuries,” he said, adding that confidence in the dollar, euro and sterling was falling.
Putin said that China would pay Gazprom for its gas in national currencies, based on a 50-50 split between the Russian rouble and Chinese yuan.