Vladimir Putin speaks at the Economic Forum in St Petersburg
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The Russian leader claimed that the West’s “economic blitzkrieg” has failed and that Russia is entering a new era as a “powerful sovereign country”. Addressing the St Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday, a showcase event this year being held with almost no Western participation, Putin told Russia’s political and economic elite that he would continue his war on Ukraine.
He said: “We are strong people and can cope with any challenge. Like our ancestors, we will solve any problem, the entire thousand-year history of our country speaks of this.”
In his most bombastic speech since the start of the war in Ukraine, Putin added that he would complete his “special operation” in Ukraine and that Russians should back him to secure their future.
He said: “Russia is entering a new era as a powerful sovereign country and will become even stronger.
“Only strong and sovereign states can have a say in this emerging world order or they are doomed to become colonies.”
He said the main aim of the invasion was to defend “our” people in the largely Russian-speaking Donbas region of eastern Ukraine – a justification that Kyiv and the West dismiss as a baseless pretext for a war that has already led to the occupation of parts of southern Ukraine far beyond the Donbas.
Putin said that Russian soldiers in the Donbas were also fighting to defend Russia’s own “rights to secure development”.
He said: “In the current situation, against a backdrop of increasing risks for us and threats, Russia’s decision to conduct a special military operation was forced – difficult, of course, but forced and necessary.”
The Russian leader has also declared the end of “the era of the unipolar world”.
He said: “When they won the Cold War, the US declared themselves God’s own representatives on earth, people who have no responsibilities — only interests.
“They have declared those interests sacred. Now it’s one-way traffic, which makes the world unstable.”
The much-hyped speech was delayed by more than 90 minutes because of a “massive” cyberattack.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists in an impromptu conference call that the speech was postponed due to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the conference’s systems.
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The long-time Russian leader also blamed the West for trying to hurt the Russian economy, calling the sanctions on Moscow “crazy” and “reckless.”
He said: “Their intention is clear to crush the Russian economy by breaking down the chain the logistical chains, freezing national assets and attacking the living standards, but they were not successful.
“It has not worked out. Russian business people have rallied together working diligently, conscientiously, and step-by-step, we are normalising the economic situation.”
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