In a 73-minute speech on June 17 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin lashed out at the U.S. for trying to “cancel” Russia, claiming it is a "fading world power" doomed to meet its imminent demise because of its “unipolar” policy.
The speech was delayed by more than 90 minutes following what Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described as a “large-scale” distributed denial-of-service cyberattack. It was not clear who was behind the attack. A hacker collective called the Ukrainian IT Army named the annual event in the western Russian city as a target earlier this week, according to CNN.
Attendees included representatives of the Taliban and Russian proxies from occupied parts of Donbas in eastern Ukraine as well as Russia’s political and business elite, multiple media outlets reported.
During the speech, Putin also tried to pin the blame for the sharp rise in food prices on the “U.S. administration and Europe’s bureaucracy” despite blocking Ukraine’s ports used to ship grain and other commodities. Ukraine is a major food producer and a substantial amount of grain is being held hostage with its major ports either blocked by Moscow’s warships or under Russia’s control.
Despite Russia weaponizing food in its war against Ukraine, Putin once again shifted the blame for the looming food crisis onto the West by accusing them of “snapping up” supplies.
After having spent his more than hour-long remarks barely touching on the war in Ukraine, Putin ended his speech to reassure his country that the economy will flourish despite Western sanctions that he called “reckless and insane.”
The Kremlin leader also said the EU had imposed sanctions against Russia on Washington's orders despite the damage to its own economy, alleging that “the European Union has completely lost its political sovereignty.”
Contrary to Putin’s claims, sanctions are squeezing Russia’s economy with its industrial production dropping and retail sales suffering their worst crash since the COVID-19 pandemic. Russia has become the world’s most sanctioned country after launching a full-scale invasion of its neighbor.
Putin, who has long framed Moscow’s war on Ukraine as a response to Kyiv’s growing diplomatic and security ties with the West, asserted that “we are normalizing the economic situation” even as world leaders show their readiness to impose further sanctions.
More than 100 days after Putin defied Western warnings and openly sent troops into Ukraine, fierce fighting continues in Ukraine with the most intense battle taking place in the industrial city of Sievierodonetsk where both sides are suffering huge casualties.
As tensions continue to soar, Western nations have sought to isolate Russia for its invasion of Ukraine while providing arms, intelligence, military training and financial support to the war-torn country.
More top-level European diplomats have also begun officially recommending Ukraine to become an official candidate for the bloc’s membership, which Putin said wasn’t a concern for Russia since “the EU is not a military organization.”
In response to the international community worried over Russia's possible use of nuclear weapons in the war against Ukraine, Putin claimed that his country isn't threatening the world with nuclear attacks.
But Putin also warned that nuclear weapons could be used in case of a threat to its own sovereignty.