Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow will press on with its military action in Ukraine until reaching its goals and mocked Western attempts to drive Russia into a corner with sanctions.
Putin told an annual economic forum in the far-eastern port city of Vladivostok that Russia has strengthened its sovereignty in the face of Western sanctions, which he said bordered on aggression.
“Russia has resisted the economic, financial and technological aggression of the West,” Putin said. “I’m sure that we haven’t lost anything and we won’t lose anything. The most important gain is the strengthening of our sovereignty, it’s an inevitable result of what’s going on.”
The Russian leader said that the economic and financial situation in Russia has stabilized, consumer prices inflation has slowed down and unemployment has remained low.
“There has been a certain polarization in the world and inside the country, but I view it as a positive thing,” he added. “Everything unnecessary, harmful, everything that has prevented us from going forward will be rejected and we will gain development tempo because development can only be based on sovereignty.”
The confrontation with the West over Ukraine has prompted Russia to embark on a hurried tilt toward Asia, and particularly China, once a junior partner of the then-Soviet Union and now the world’s second largest economy.
Putin 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.
Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet next week at a summit in Uzbekistan, a Russian official said Wednesday.
The visit to Uzbekistan, if it goes ahead, will be Xi’s first foreign trip in 2½ years. The pair last met in Beijing in February, weeks before the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine.
The Russian military held sweeping military drills that began last week and ended Wednesday in the country’s east that involved forces from China, another show of increasingly close ties between Moscow and Beijing amid tensions with the West.
Putin emphasized that Russia will keep protecting its sovereignty in the face of what he described as an attempt by the U.S. and its allies to preserve their global domination, saying that “the world mustn’t be founded on the diktat of one country that deemed itself the representative of the almighty or even higher and based its policies on its perceived exclusivity.”
He scoffed at Western attempts to cap prices for Russian oil and gas, calling the idea “stupid” and saying that Russia will have enough customers in Asia. “The demand is so high on global markets that we won’t have any problem selling it,” he said.
“An attempt to limit prices by administrative means is just ravings, it’s sheer nonsense,” Putin added. “It will only lead to a hike in prices.”
He rejected the European Union’s argument that Russia was using energy as a weapon by suspending gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Germany.
Putin reaffirmed the Russian argument that Western sanctions have hampered maintenance of the last turbine that remains in operation, forcing its shutdown.
He repeated that Moscow stands ready to “press the button” and start pumping gas “as early as tomorrow” through the Nord Stream 2, which has been put on hold by the German authorities. (NBC)