During a visit to a military hospital in Moscow, where he met Russian servicemen wounded during fighting in the special military operation, President Vladimir Putin laid the blame for the Ukrainian conflict squarely on Ukraine’s Western sponsors, according to RT and other reports. One of the troops asked the President, “During the special military operation we are liberating Russian territory. How do you feel about Western countries helping our enemy?” to which Putin replied: “The point is not that they are helping our enemy. They are our enemy. They are solving their own problems with their [Ukraine’s] hands. That is what it is all about…. Ukraine itself is not our enemy, whereas those who want to destroy Russian statehood and to achieve, as they say, a strategic defeat of Russia on the battlefield, are mainly in the West, but still, there are different people there. There are people who sympathize with us and who are with us at heart. But there are the elites who think the existence of Russia (at least in its current state and size) is unacceptable. They want to disintegrate it….
“Therefore, they have been nurturing the Kiev regime for quite a long time, precisely to create this conflict. Unfortunately for us, they have achieved this: they started this conflict and are trying to achieve their objective, namely the task of fighting Russia, with the help of Ukrainians….
“The point is not that we do not like that they are supplying Ukraine, that’s not the core of the problem. The problem is not with Ukraine, but with those who are trying to destroy Russia using Ukraine. That is the problem. But they will fail: It is simply out of the question, absolutely out of the question.
“I think that the realization is starting to dawn on them, and the rhetoric is changing: Those who were talking just yesterday about the need to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia are now looking for the right words on how to quickly end the conflict. We also want to end the conflict, as quickly as possible, but only on our terms. We have no desire to fight endlessly, but we are not going to cede our positions either…. So, it is not going to happen.”
In response to another question, he remarked, “It was not Ukraine that hoped to destroy our economy; it is not capable of doing it. It has already been completely destroyed itself; there is nothing left there, it lives entirely on handouts. All its leaders travel around with hat in hand, begging for an extra million dollars.”
In an exchange about Ukrainian strikes against civilians, and Russia’s response, Putin replied, “What has happened in Belgorod is of course a terrorist attack. Why? … It was a targeted strike on the civilian population. Of course, this is a terrorist attack; there is no other way to describe it. Should we respond in kind? Of course, we can hit squares in Kiev or any other city. But … there are children walking there, mothers with strollers. I understand, because I am quite angry, too, but I want to ask you: do we need to do this, target the squares? … We strike with high-precision weapons at locations where they make decisions, where military personnel and mercenaries gather, at other similar centers, and at military facilities, above all. …Of course, not a single crime like that, and this is certainly a crime against the civilian population, will go unpunished, this is for sure, there can be no doubt.”
Putin also commented in his response to the first question, “You probably see on the battlefield that they are gradually losing their zest. When a projectile flies, it is difficult to understand whether they are losing it or not, but in general you probably know that the situation on the battlefield is changing. This is despite the fact that the entire ‘civilized’ West is fighting us.
“You, too, have probably heard many times: the Ukrainian army expends 5,000–6,000 155mm shells there per day of combat operations, and the United States produces 14,000 per month. Per month! And they use 5,000 per day. … Therefore, though it has been their goal to deal with Russia from time immemorial, we will deal with them faster, it seems.…”