February 4, 2023

After a week of silence, Putin says Russia will achieve “classic” goals in Ukraine

  • Putin visited Russia and the Far East
  • Talks to workers at Cosmotrome
  • Russia must achieve ‘noble’ war objectives – Putin
  • Russia can not be isolated – Putin

LONDON, April 12 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a rare public appearance, the first time he has addressed the conflict since Moscow stationed its troops from northern Ukraine at the Kiev gates.

Putin, along with his Belarusian counterpart Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, went to the Vostochny space station in the Far East of Russia, where state television showed the first manned spaceflight to mark the anniversary of the Soviet victory.

When asked by Russian space agency staff if the operation in Ukraine would achieve its goals, Putin said: “Of course. I have no doubt.”

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“Its goals are absolutely clear and classic,” Putin said. “We have no choice. It’s the right decision.”

Putin said Russia’s main objectives were to protect the Danbass people in Russian – speaking eastern Ukraine and to end Ukraine’s position as the center of nationalist anti – Russian sentiment.

Putin, who appeared everywhere on Russian television in the early days of the war, has largely withdrawn from public view since Moscow withdrew its troops from northern Ukraine earlier this month.

Last week he was only present at the funeral of one of the only nationalist legislators to appear in public, where he made brief remarks and did not speak directly about the war. On Monday he met the visiting president of Austria at a country house outside Moscow, but no pictures of that meeting were released.

The West shows that Putin’s war is a land grab by a sovereign nation. Putin calls it a “special military operation” to disarm Russia’s neighbor, describing Ukraine as a puppet of the United States.

In comments on Tuesday, he drew an analogy between astronaut Yuri Gagarin’s first spaceflight 61 years ago and Russia’s violation of Western sanctions today.

“The obstacles were total, the isolation was over, but the Soviet Union was still number one in space,” said Putin, 69, recalling his own surprise about the achievement of a schoolboy.

“We do not want to be isolated,” Putin said. “In the modern world it is not possible to severely isolate anyone – especially a vast country like Russia.”

Lukashenko also rejected the impact of sanctions: “Why are we so concerned about these sanctions?” he said.

Russia’s Cold War space conquests, especially Gagarin’s aircraft and the launch of the first satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957, were portrayed by Soviet leaders as a testament to the superiority of their organization.

Last year, Russia’s nominal GDP was just $ 1.6 trillion – smaller than Italy – and $ 22.9 trillion, or 7% of the US economy. Russia’s economy is set to shrink by more than 10% in 2022, the worst since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, former finance minister Alexei Goodrin said on Tuesday. read more

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Edited by Peter Graff Editing by Falconbridge

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