Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, told Kiev on Thursday that it should accept Moscow’s conditions right now or prepare for the worst. He added menacingly that Russia has only just begun its military activity in Ukraine, which has now been ongoing for five months.
Putin said that Western allies were igniting hostilities at a meeting with the heads of the Kremlin-controlled parliament, saying that “the West intends to fight us till the last Ukrainian.”
It’s a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, he said, but it appears to be going in that way.
In a frightening tone, Putin remarked, “Everybody should know that generally speaking, we haven’t even begun anything in earnest.”
He declared that Russia remains ready to sit down for talks to end the fighting, adding that “those who refuse to do so should know that the longer it lasts the more difficult it will be for them to make a deal with us.”
“We are hearing that they want to defeat us on the battlefield,” Putin said. “Let them try.” Earlier in the conflict, the Kremlin demanded that Kyiv acknowledge Russian sovereignty over the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, and recognise the independence of Moscow-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. Moscow also said it expected Ukraine to bow to the existing situation on the ground, a reference to other land gains it has made since Russian troops rolled into Ukraine on February 24.
Early in the war, the Russian military’s attention was diverted from Kyiv and other major towns in northeastern Ukraine to the eastern industrial heartland of Donbas, where Moscow-backed rebels have been engaged in combat with Ukrainian forces since 2014.
The Russian military asserted control over one of the two provinces that make up Donbas earlier this week, and it is now ready to intensify its drive towards Donetsk.
Early on in the battle, Russia took control of a portion of adjacent Zaporizhzhia and the southern Kherson area.
Moscow is expected eventually to try to cut Ukraine off from its Black Sea coast all the way to the Romanian border. If successful, it would deal a crushing blow to the Ukrainian economy and also create a corridor to Moldova’s separatist region of Transnistria, where Russia maintains a military base. Putin reaffirmed his long-held claim that the West is using the conflict in Ukraine to try to isolate and weaken Russia.
They just don’t require a nation like Russia, according to Putin. “For this reason, they have turned to terrorism, secession, and internal forces that are harmful to our nation.”
He claimed that Western sanctions aimed at “sowing division and discord in our society and demoralizing our people” had fallen short of their objectives.
The West’s concerted efforts to impose its vision of the world order are destined to fail, according to Putin, who asserted that history cannot be stopped.
The Ukrainian president’s advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak, answered on Twitter, saying that there was no “collective West” plot and that just the Russian army had entered Ukraine.