President Vladimir Putin has challenged the West to try and defeat Russia “on the battlefield” and said Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine marked a shift to a “multi-polar world”.
The Russian leader said on Thursday that Russia had barely gotten started in terms of its war in Ukraine and dared the West to try to defeat it in warfare, while also insisting that Moscow was still open to the idea of peace talks.
In a hawkish speech on Thursday to parliamentary leaders more than four months into Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin said the prospects for any negotiation would grow dimmer the longer the conflict dragged on.
“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. What can you say? Let them try,” Putin said.
“We have heard many times that the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it seems that everything is heading towards this,” he said.
Russia has accused the West of waging a proxy war against it by hammering the Russian economy with sanctions and stepping up the supply of advanced weapons to Ukraine.
But while boasting that Russia was just getting into its stride in terms of the war, Putin also referred to the possibility of negotiations.
“Everyone should know that, by and large, we haven’t started anything yet in earnest,” he said.
“At the same time, we don’t reject peace talks. But those who reject them should know that the further it goes, the harder it will be for them to negotiate with us.”
Putin said it was obvious that Western sanctions were creating difficulties, “but not at all what the initiators of the economic blitzkrieg against Russia were counting on”.
Putin’s comments were the first reference to diplomacy in many weeks after repeated statements from Moscow that negotiations with Kyiv had totally broken down.