President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday it was “impossible” to isolate Russia, as the country faces unprecedented Western sanctions over its military operation in Ukraine.
“No matter how much someone would like to isolate Russia, it is impossible to do this,” Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia’s Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
The coronavirus “epidemic has been replaced by other challenges, also of a global nature, threatening the whole world,” Putin said in televised remarks.
“I mean the sanctions fever in the West, its undisguised aggressive attempts to impose behavior patterns on other countries, deprive them of their sovereignty and subordinate them to their will,” Putin added.
Washington and Brussels have pummelled Moscow with a barrage of economic and personal sanctions after Putin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24.
Facing growing isolation and deteriorating ties with the West, Moscow is seeking to pivot the country towards the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
Speaking at the forum, Putin hailed the growing role of the Asia-Pacific region in global affairs.
“The role… of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region has significantly increased,” he said.
He added that partnerships in the region “will create colossal new opportunities for our people.”
Meanwhile, Putin said most of the grain leaving Ukrainian ports after a blockade that fueled a global food crisis is reaching the EU instead of developing nations.
“Almost all the grain exported from Ukraine is sent not to the poorest developing countries, but to EU countries,” he said.
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, was forced to halt almost all deliveries after Russia started a military operation in late February.
Exports of grain across Black Sea ports resumed after Kyiv and Moscow in July inked a deal with the United Nations and Turkey acting as guarantors.
“We did everything to ensure that Ukrainian grain was exported… we did it together with Turkey,” Putin said at the forum.
Putin said European countries “acted as colonialists in recent decades and centuries” and “they continue to act so today.”
He said they “once again simply deceived developing countries.”
“With this approach, the scale of food problems in the world will only grow,” Putin said, adding that it could lead to “an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.”