Putin criticizes the West and declares the end of the “era of a unipolar world”

“When they won the Cold War, the United States declared that they are God’s representatives on earth, people who have no responsibilities – only interests. They have declared these interests sacred. Now it is a one-way movement, making the world unstable,” Putin told the audience.

The famous speech was delayed by more than 90 minutes due to a “massive” cyber attack. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in an impromptu conference call that the speech was delayed due to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on conference systems.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. A Ukrainian hacker group named the Saint Petersburg Forum as a target earlier this week on its Telegram channel.

Putin’s speech at the annual conference, one of his most important since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine nearly four months ago, was seen as an opportunity for the world to gain some insight into his thinking.

As soon as the Russian president took the podium in the western Russian city, he did not waste time on compliments and went directly to the attacks on the United States and its allies.

“In the past they live alone under their own illusions … they think that … they won and then everything else became a colony, a backyard. And the people who live there are second-class citizens,” he added that the Russian “special operation” – the phrase that The Russian government uses it to describe its war on Ukraine – it has become “the savior of the West to blame Russia for all its troubles”.

After accusing Western countries of blaming Russia for their problems, Putin tried to blame the high food prices on “the American administration and the European bureaucracy.”

Ukraine is a major producer of food, but the Russian invasion affected its production and the entire supply chain. The United Nations said the war had an impact devastating effect on supplies and prices and warned that it could push up to 49 million more people into famine or famine-like conditions.
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week that food had become part of the Kremlin’s “terror arsenal”.

Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain, accusations that appear to have been confirmed satellite images Russian ships loaded with Ukrainian grain appear. Moreover, Russia blocks maritime access to the Black Sea ports controlled by Ukraine, which means that even grain still under Ukrainian control cannot be exported to the many countries that depend on it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg on June 17, 2022.

The Russian leader has also long blamed the West for trying to damage the Russian economy, calling sanctions on Moscow “crazy” and “reckless”.

He added that “their intention is clear to crush the Russian economy by breaking the logistical chain, freezing national assets and attacking living standards, but they have not succeeded.” “It did not work out. Russian businessmen came together to work hard, conscientiously and step-by-step, and we are working to normalize the economic situation.”

The Russian president has For a long time framed his decision to launch an invasion of Ukraine in response to Kiev’s growing diplomatic and security ties with the West. Last week, he hinted that his goal in Ukraine is Restoration of Russia as an imperial power.

Putin claims Russia was ‘forced’ into Ukraine conflict

Speaking about his war on Ukraine on Friday, Putin went straight to his propaganda book, claiming that Russia was “forced” into the conflict.

He described the invasion as “a decision of a sovereign state that has an unconditional right… to defend its security.”

“The resolution aims to protect our fellow citizens, residents of the Donbass People’s Republic, who for eight years were subjected to genocide by the Kyiv regime and the neo-Nazis who received full protection from the West,” he said.

the two fields The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) fell under the control of Russian-backed separatists in 2014.
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The Kremlin accused the Ukrainian authorities of discriminating against ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the regions, a charge Kyiv denied. As of 2019, Russian passports have been handed over to residents of both entities.

Finally, in late February, Putin announced that he would recognize them as independents, a move that was seen as the start of the war.

On Friday, he said Russian soldiers and separatists were “fighting to defend their people” in Donbas and the right to “reject any attempt to impose false values ​​of dehumanization and moral degeneration from the outside.”

No country other than Russia recognizes the two as independent. Ukraine and the rest of the international community consider the territory under Russian occupation.

The European Commission announced Friday that it is recommending Ukraine and neighboring Moldova as candidates for EU membership, with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying Ukrainians are “ready to die” for the European perspective.

Speaking about the European Union on Friday, Putin said the bloc had “lost its sovereignty”.

“The European Union has completely lost its sovereignty, and its elites are dancing to someone else’s tunes, harming their own residents. The real interests of European and European companies are completely ignored and set aside,” he said.

He later added that Russia had “nothing against” Ukraine’s entry into the European Union.

“The European Union is not a military-political bloc, unlike NATO, so we have always said and I have always said that our position here is consistent and understandable and we have nothing against it,” Putin said during a panel discussion following his speech.

“It is a sovereign decision for any country to join the economic unions or not, and it is up to this economic association to accept new countries as its members or not. As far as it is convenient for the EU, let the EU countries decide. Whether it is in the interests of Ukraine Or at her expense, that’s their business, too.”

CNN’s Anna Chernova, Fred Blitgen, Zahratullah, Aliana Pavlova, Niamh Kennedy, Amy Cassidy and Sean Lingas contributed to this report.