Vladimir Putin has said that Russia has not lost anything as a result of its war in Ukraine as he vowed to press on with military action.
The Russian president said that the Kremlin’s special military operation, as he describes it, was designed to strengthen his country’s sovereignty and was aimed at “helping people” living in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
His comments come after military analysts said Russia failed in its initial objective of taking Kyiv in a “lightning strike” move and that the country has lost thousands of troops and items of military hardware – which Russia has not confirmed.
Russia also faces a counterattack in Kherson region, though Ukrainian officials have been guarded about how it is faring.
Mr Putin claimed Russia did not “start” any military operations, but was only trying to end those that started in 2014, after a Ukrainian “coup” resulted in an “illegitimate regime”.
Although he did not mention Ukraine specifically, he also denied Russia had violated international law, despite Ukrainian police investigating more than 26,000 allegations.
He also attacked the UK, saying the way Britain chooses its leaders was “far from democratic”, a day after Liz Truss – who was chosen by party members to lead the Conservatives – replaced Boris Johnson as prime minister.
The Russian president said: “We have not lost anything and will not lose anything.
“Of course, a certain polarisation is taking place, both in the world and within the country, but I believe that this will only be beneficial, because everything that is unnecessary, harmful and… prevents us from moving forward will be rejected.”
Mr Putin was speaking at an economic forum in Vladivostok, where he said it would be “impossible” to isolate Russia, despite Western sanctions that meant his country was now the most sanctioned country in the world.
He said Moscow would defy the West’s attempts to push Russia off the global stage and would look to markets in the Middle East and Iran instead.
He accused the West of “financial and technological aggression” and admitted that, although Russia’s economy was coping with the sanctions, there were some difficulties in some industries and regions.
But Mr Putin said Russia would have no problem selling its vast energy resources around the world, which came as officials said the Russian leader would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next week at a summit in Uzbekistan.
‘European competitiveness declining’
Hitting back after Russia was largely shunned by Western businesses after the Ukraine invasion, Mr Putin added: “In the spring, many foreign corporations rushed to leave Russia, believing that our country would suffer more from this than others.
“But now we are seeing how production and jobs in Europe are closing one after another,” the Russian president said.
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“The competitiveness of European enterprises is declining because EU authorities themselves are depriving them of available raw materials, energy resources and sales markets.
“In an attempt to resist the course of history, West countries are undermining the key pillars of the world economic system, built over centuries.”
‘Developing world cheated by grain deal’
Many analysts have said that surging inflation in countries across the world, including in the UK, is being fuelled by the Ukraine war, with Europe’s withdrawal from Russia’s gas supply network sending energy prices spiralling.
In her first speech as prime minister, Liz Truss referred to the consequences of the war and said the UK can “ride out the storm”.
Mr Putin also claimed Russia and the developing world had been “cheated” by a landmark grain deal designed to alleviate a looming food crisis and said he would look to revise its terms, as “almost all the grain exported from Ukraine is sent not to the poorest developing countries, but to European Union countries”.
He also said it was Ukraine that was shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, not Russia as Ukraine has alleged, and Russia had no military equipment at the plant.