President Vladimir Putin declared on Tuesday that peace negotiations with Ukraine had reached a stalemate, vowing that his soldiers would triumph and chastising the West for failing to bring Moscow to heel. It was Putin’s first public comments on the crisis in more than a week.
Putin claimed that Russia will achieve all of its “noble” goals in Ukraine, speaking in public for the first time since Russian soldiers retreated from northern Ukraine after being halted at the gates of Kyiv.
Putin said Kyiv had blocked peace negotiations by staging what he called phoney charges of Russian war crimes and demanding security guarantees covering the entire country, sending the strongest hint yet that the war will drag on for longer.
“We have once again found ourselves in a dead-end position,” Putin, Russia’s supreme leader since 1999, said during a press conference at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, 3,450 miles (5,550 kilometres) east of Moscow.
In response to a question from Russian space agency employees about whether the operation in Ukraine will fulfil its objectives, Putin said: “Without a doubt. There isn’t a single doubt in my mind.”
Russia will continue its operation “rhythmically and quietly,” he added.
Putin said that Russia had no option but to fight because it needed to protect Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine and prevent its former Soviet neighbour from becoming a base for Moscow’s adversaries.
The conflict has been denounced by the West as a savage imperial territorial grab aimed at a sovereign country. Ukraine claims it is battling for survival after Russian President Vladimir Putin took Crimea in 2014 and recognised two of its separatist areas as autonomous on February 21.
Putin called the sanctions imposed by the West, which have sent Russia’s economy into its deepest slump since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, a failure.
“That Blitzkrieg on which our adversaries were banking failed,” Putin stated.
Putin had largely faded from public view since Russia’s withdrawal from northern Ukraine two weeks ago, despite being omnipresent on Russian television in the early days of the war.
His only recent public appearance was at the funeral of a nationalist lawmaker, where he did not mention the war. He visited the visiting Austrian chancellor at a rural estate outside of Moscow on Monday, but no photos of the encounter were released.