Russia, according to President Vladimir Putin, has won, not lost, from the Ukraine conflict because it is going on a new sovereign route that will restore its worldwide clout.
Putin is increasingly portraying the fight in Ukraine, which he refers to as a “special military operation,” as a watershed moment in history in which Russia finally escaped the humiliations that surrounded the Soviet Union’s demise in 1991.
In an effort to emphasize Russia’s shift toward Asia, Putin stated at the Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian Pacific port of Vladivostok that the West was failing and that Asia was the future.
Putin barely mentioned Ukraine in his major speech, save to emphasize grain exports. However, when asked if anything had been lost as a result of the fight, Putin stated that Russia had won and would emerge reinvigorated.
“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. “This will ultimately strengthen our country from within.”
He did, however, admit that the conflict had caused “a certain polarization” in both the world and Russia.
On February 24, Russia dispatched tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in what it dubbed a special operation to undermine its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and weed out dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian military have put up a valiant fight. Neither side has disclosed the number of soldiers killed.
Putin’s appraisal of Russian advantages ignored NATO’s massive buildup of forces in eastern Europe, as well as the organization’s planned accession of Sweden and Finland as members. One of his stated goals for acting in Ukraine was to prevent NATO expansion.
He also dismissed the impact of sanctions, which have deprived Russian industry of vital components such as microchips, shut Russians off from international payment systems, and caused thousands of Western enterprises to leave the country.
He predicted that the GDP will fall by “about 2% or a bit more” this year, and that the budget would be in surplus.
Putin, who turns 70 in October, reminded the West in July that he was just getting started in Ukraine and challenged the US, which has economic and conventional military advantages over Russia, to try to destroy Moscow. He predicted that it would fail.