Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated he is bracing for a long war in Ukraine, saying that Kyiv could use any ceasefire to rearm and that Washington would continue to see Russia as an enemy no matter who won the 2024 United States presidential election.
Speaking for several hours at an economic forum in Russia’s Pacific port city of Vladivostok on Tuesday, Putin said had so far failed and the Ukrainian army had sustained heavy losses of 71,000 men in the attacks.
Only when Ukraine was exhausted when it came to men, equipment, and ammunition would it talk peace, he said in reply to questions from a Russian television presenter acting as a moderator.
But he said Kyiv would use any cessation of hostilities “to replenish their resources and restore the combat capability of their armed forces.”
Only when Ukraine was exhausted when it came to men, equipment, and ammunition would it talk peace, Vladimir Putin said. Source: AAP, AP / Mikhail Metzel
Putin said many potential mediators had asked him if Russia was ready to stop fighting but said that Russia could hardly do so when it was facing a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
For there to be any chance of talks, said Putin, Ukraine would first have to cancel its self-imposed legal ban on peace talks and explain what it wanted.
“Then we shall see,” Putin said.
Russia controls about 18 per cent of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea which it annexed in 2014, and a swathe of eastern and southern Ukraine which it seized after invading Ukraine on 24 February last year in what it called a special military operation.
The war has sown and the countryside, and .
For several months, Ukraine has been battling to try to regain some of the lost territory and has retaken some villages but not yet made significant breakthroughs against heavily fortified Russian lines which are strewn with landmines.
Ukraine says it will not rest until every last Russian soldier is ejected from its land. The West says it wants to help Ukraine defeat Russia – an aim Kremlin officials say is an unrealistic pipedream.
2024 US presidential election
Putin said was “politically motivated” and demonstrated the “rottenness” of the US political system.
But the Kremlin chief said that no matter who won next year’s US election, he expected no change in Washington’s policy towards Russia.
“The will be no fundamental changes in the Russian direction in US foreign policy, no matter who is elected president,” Putin said. “The US authorities perceive Russia as an existential enemy.”
As president, Trump was investigated for possible collusion with Russia but an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller did not find sufficient evidence that Trump’s campaign had coordinated with Moscow to influence the 2016 election in which he defeated Hillary Clinton.
Putin said the idea that Trump had special ties with Russia was “complete nonsense”.
Anger over West’s Ukraine support
The West’s decision and depleted uranium munitions was a crime, Putin said. Such supplies might prolong the war, he added, but they would not change its ultimate outcome.
He also criticised the West’s decision to supply Ukraine with F-16 jets and any possible US supply of Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS).
The Biden administration is close to approving the shipment of longer-range missiles packed with cluster bombs to Ukraine, the Reuters news agency reported this month.
Russia’s ties with China
Putin also defended his pivot towards Asia, which he said was accelerated by the war and the West’s attempt to constrict the US$2.1 trillion ($3.27 trillion) Russian economy.
Speaking ahead of , Putin said the West was trying to deter China from having close relations with Russia, but that such attempts had failed as ties with Beijing were at an unprecedented level.
“We have truly amazing relations in the area of international security and coordination of our positions,” Putin said, adding that the two countries did not “create military alliances” and that their cooperation was not aimed against anybody else.
Moscow has focused increasingly on boosting trade, energy, military and other ties with China after its decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
China has declined to blame Moscow for the war and has condemned sweeping Western sanctions imposed on Russia while at the same time profiting by securing discounts for oil and gas that Russia can no longer sell to Europe.