June 23, 2024

MOSCOW, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the United States was seeking to impose its crumbling hegemony across the world and that the war in Ukraine showed how far the West had lost touch with reality.

“We did not start the so-called war in Ukraine. On the contrary – we are trying to finish it,” Putin told a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The West had caused the war because the United States was a “hegemon” which considered itself the only arbiter of truth on the planet, said the Kremlin chief.

Putin said the leaders of the West had lost “a sense of reality” because of what he cast as Washington’s “colonial thinking”. He questioned what right the United States had to lecture any other country.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 unleashed a war that has devastated swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine, killed or injured hundreds of thousands of men and triggered the biggest rupture in Russia’s ties with the West for six decades.

The West casts the war as Moscow’s biggest strategic blunder since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Western leaders say they want to defeat Russia on the battlefields of Ukraine. A Ukrainian counteroffensive has so far failed to yield major territorial success.

Putin, though, presents the war as part of a much bigger struggle with the United States which the Kremlin elite says aims to cleave Russia apart, grab its vast natural resources and then turn to settling scores with China.

The former spies who wield power in Moscow have repeatedly warned of the risk of a Russia-NATO conflict as the West’s post-Cold War dominance wanes, Russia lays to rest the humiliations of the Soviet collapse, and China rises to superpower status. (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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