Vladimir Putin claims that the West is to blame for rising tensions over the situation in the Ukraine, even as Russia sends more troops and weapons into the country to support pro-Moscow rebels.
Putin this week was defiant over economic sanctions led by the United States and Russia, which he said would not have “catastrophic consequences” on Russia’s economy.
“We understand the fatality of an ‘Iron Curtain’ for us,” Putin was quoted as saying. “We will not go down this path in any case and no one will build a wall around us. That is impossible!”
A number of Western nations have called out Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and support of rebels in a conflict that has claimed 4,300 lives. But Vladimir Putin claimed that if it wasn’t for the situation in Ukraine, Western nations would have found another reason to pressure Russia.
“When Russia starts… safeguarding people and its interests, it immediately becomes bad (in the view of the West),” he said. “You think it’s over our position over east Ukraine or Crimea? Absolutely not! If it wasn’t for that, they would have found a different reason. It has always been like that.”
Putin has reserved some particularly harsh rhetoric for the United States. Speaking at a meeting of the All-Russia People’s Front, a coalition of Putin’s supporters, he corrected an audience member who asked if the United States was trying to humiliate Russia.
“They don’t want to humiliate us, they want to subjugate us, to solve their problems at our expense,” Putin said. “They want to bring us under control. Throughout history no one has ever succeeded in doing that to Russia and they never will.”
But as Vladimir Putin tries to shift blame on the West, Russia has continued to raise tensions among its neighbors. This week, NATO accused Russia of sending a new round of troops and weapons into Ukraine, and Russia’s neighbors in the Baltic region have said they are ready to confront Russia if needed.