Russian President Vladimir Putin spun the growing quagmire of his Ukrainian invasion as a win at a forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday — claiming that “nothing” has been sacrificed in the warfare.
“We have not lost anything and will not lose anything,” Putin said.
The erroneous assertion comes amid Western estimates that over 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since the fighting began in February.
“In terms of what we have gained, I can say that the main gain has been the strengthening of our sovereignty, and this is the inevitable result of what is happening now,” he continued. “This will ultimately strengthen our country from within.”
Putin has repeatedly sought to frame setbacks in Ukraine as part of a Kremlin plan.
After Russian forces failed to take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the Kremlin played the attempt off as a feint — despite evidence that Russian intelligence was counting on taking the city.
Neither side has reported reliable casualty figures since the war began, though if Western estimates are to be believed, Russia has lost as many soldiers in six months of fighting as it did over 10 years in Afghanistan.
Putin also acknowledged but downplayed the internal divisions in Russia following his invasion.
“Of course, a certain polarization is taking place, both in the world and within the country,” he said of a nation where public opposition to the war has been effectively outlawed. “But I believe that this will only be beneficial, because everything that is unnecessary, harmful and everything that prevents us from moving forward will be rejected.”
Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific coast, Putin framed the war as a necessary response to provocations in eastern Ukraine.
“Russia decided, after repeated attempts to resolve this issue peacefully, to respond tit-for-tat, the way our potential adversary acted,” he said. “All our actions are aimed at helping the people who live in Donbas. This is our duty and we will fulfill it to the end.”
Russia’s invasion in February was preceded by a decision to recognize the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), breakaway regions within the larger Donbas, widely seen as having been sparked by Russian covert operations during the Kremlin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
The February decree legitimizing the DPR and LPR came following a speech in which Putin ranted that the whole of Ukraine was in fact part of Russia.
With Post wires