President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia’s mission was to create a “new world” and blamed Western hegemony for Moscow’s grinding offensive in Ukraine.
Putin has portrayed Russia’s full-scale military intervention in Ukraine — launched in February 2022 — as part of a long-standing confrontation with the West.
“We are tasked, essentially, with building a new world,” Putin said, adding the West was aiming for global “hegemony”.
“The West always needs an enemy,” he said.
As Moscow grows more isolated in the West and faces unprecedented sanctions over its Ukraine campaign, Putin accused the West of trying to create a “new Iron Curtain” with Russia.
“Europe is fencing itself off from us and creating a new Iron Curtain,” said Putin, who served in the Soviet KGB.
“We are not the ones shutting the door. It’s Europe that’s shutting the door,” he added.
Most Western countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines, making travel out of the country far harder.
Putin said the conflict in Ukraine was “not a territorial” one and that Moscow has “no interests from the point of view of conquering some territories.”
Russia’s army occupies large swathes of southern and eastern Ukraine, and Putin has formally annexed four Ukrainian regions: Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Lugansk.
Putin has consistently said that Ukrainian territory was historically Russian, and questioned Ukrainian statehood.
Putin also oversaw the annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
The longtime leader, who turns 71 this week, blamed Western countries for the conflict, now in its twentieth month.
“The war, which was started by the Kyiv regime with active support from the West, has been going on already for 10 years,” he said.
“The special military operation was launched to stop it,” he said, using Moscow’s term for the offensive.
Russia’s army failed to take Ukraine’s capital Kyiv in the opening days of its offensive.