MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the West had lost touch with reality over the Ukraine war and warned that if its leaders had forgotten how to compromise then the world would have to see where such arrogance led.
Putin accused the West of fomenting the conflict in Ukraine, which he cast as part of a much larger struggle between Russia and an arrogant West which he said had lost a sense of reality.
“Our interlocutors in the West seem to have completely forgotten that there are such concepts as reasonable self-restraint, compromises, willingness to give in to something in order to achieve an acceptable result for everyone,” Putin said.
“They are literally obsessed with only one thing – to push their interests at any cost. If that’s their choice, let’s see what comes of it,” Putin told a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
As he spoke the rouble fell below 100 per U.S. dollar.
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 are arming Ukraine to enable it to defend itself and beat back Russian forces. 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 West, he said, had caused the Ukraine war because the United States was a “hegemon” which considered itself the only arbiter of truth on the planet.
“We did not start the so-called war in Ukraine. On the contrary – we are trying to finish it,” he said.
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 FaulconbridgeEditing by Andrew Osborn and Mark Trevelyan)