Moscow (Web Desk): President Vladimir Putin said that what was at stake in Ukraine was Russia’s very existence as a state.
Speaking at length to workers at an aviation factory in Buryatia, Putin expanded on his familiar argument that the West was bent on pulling Russia apart.
“So for us this is not a geopolitical task, but a task of the survival of Russian statehood, creating conditions for the future development of the country and our children,” he said.
Putin has accused the West of using Ukraine as a tool to wage war against Russia and inflict on it a “strategic defeat”. He said the enemy had been expecting that factories would grind to a halt, the financial system would collapse, unemployment would rise, protesters would take to the streets, and Russia would “sway from within and collapse”.
“This did not happen,” Putin said. “It turned out, for many of us, and even more so for Western countries, that the fundamental foundations of Russia’s stability are much stronger than anyone thought.”
Ukraine’s future hinges on the outcome of battles in the east, including in and around Bakhmut, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, with both sides describing brutal fighting as Russia intensifies a winter campaign to capture the small city.
Bakhmut has become the focus of Russia’s invasion, with the months-long fight becoming Europe’s bloodiest infantry battle since World War II.