Putin says West will fail in isolating Russia over war in Ukraine

Putin says West will fail

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the West will fail in its attempts to isolate Russia and face growing economic problems.

Speaking Thursday via video link to members of the Eurasian Economic Forum, Putin said Russia wasn’t going to shut itself off from international cooperation. The forum includes several ex-Soviet nations.

Putin said that trying to isolate Russia is “impossible, utterly unrealistic in the modern world” and “those who try to do it primarily hurt themselves.”

The Russian leader cited growing economic challenges in the West, including “inflation unseen in 40 years, growing unemployment, rupture of supply chains and the worsening of global crises in such sensitive spheres as food.”

“This is not a joke,” he said. “This is a serious thing that will have an impact on the entire system of economic and political relations.”

He lambasted the West for seizing Russian reserves, saying that “the theft of others’ assets never brought any good.”

KYIV, Ukraine — A regional governor in eastern Ukraine says shelling of the city of Kharkiv killed at least four civilians.

Kharkiv Gov. Oleg Synyehubov said that another seven residents of Ukraine’s second-largest city were wounded in Thursday’s shelling.

He urged people to stay in shelters, warning that the barrage might continue.

KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian governor of the eastern Luhansk region says Russian bombardments killed three people in and around the city of Lysychansk, which is a key focus of fighting.

Serhiy Haidai said Thursday that one person was killed in Lysychansk and two in the nearby village of Ustynivka amid a Russian artillery bombardment on Wednesday. He said strikes in the region had hit various targets including private houses and a humanitarian aid center, without specifying how the people died.

Haidai is the Kyiv-backed governor of the Luhansk region, where the Ukrainian government is holding onto a small area around Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk in the face of a focused push by Russian forces.

In the northern Kharkiv region, governor Oleh Synehubov said two men ages 64 and 82 had been killed in shelling of the town of Balakliya and 10 other people were injured, including a 9-year-old girl. Five other people were injured in various other places in the region, he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

DAVOS, Switzerland — Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov says that not enough strategic steps have been taken in recent years to prevent Europe’s growing dependence on Russian gas and to counter hybrid attacks.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, Petkov said that the war in Ukraine “caused many crises to us because we had allowed ourselves to be dependent on Russia.”

Petkov said that after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Europe criticized Moscow but did nothing to reduce its dependence on it.

“While we linked the price of electricity to that of gas, Russia now can not only reduce gas supplies, but also regulate electricity prices in Europe,” he said.

MILAN, Italy — The World Food Program has been pushing to get wheat out of Ukrainian ports to help feed the hungry elsewhere in the world and avert growing food insecurity in vulnerable regions, while also making room for the harvest of grain that has recently been planted.

“We are pushing 100% to get the food that is stuck in that port out. It needs to be a continuous flow, it cannot be a few ships full. We need to get what we can out of there, not just for the Ukrainian economy but to get to people who need it in Yemen and Somalia and Afghanistan,” said WFP spokesman John Dumont.

Dumont was in Odesa a couple of weeks ago, and says the grain silos are full. “They are planting now. Where are they going to put that wheat when it is harvest time at the end of June and July? There is no place for it to go.”

“It needs to get out in a continuous way. It cannot just be a little one-off humanitarian convoy. The Black Sea needs to open.”

MOSCOW — The Kremlin says it expects Ukraine to see what is happening in the country and to accept Moscow’s demands

Asked Thursday if Russia expects Ukraine to make territorial concessions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied: “Moscow expects the acceptance of its demands and the understanding of the real situation that exists de-facto.”

Russia has previously demanded recognition of its sovereignty over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. It also is seeking acknowledgement of the independence of Russia-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials said in March that the status of Crimea and the separatist regions could be discussed later. In recent weeks, they have toughened their stand and said that Russian troops should pull back to where they were before Moscow launched a military action in Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Speaking in a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Peskov said: “Kyiv must acknowledge the de-facto situation and just have a sober assessment of it.”

DAVOS, Switzerland — Slovakia Prime Minister Eduard Heger has warned that Russia that “will go further” and his country could be next if Ukraine fails to win the war.

Heger was speaking to Sky News at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Slovakia, a member of the European Union and NATO, borders Ukraine.

“We need to support Ukraine because if they fail, then it’s going to threaten us, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia,” Heger said.

He said Russia going beyond Ukrainian borders is “the fear.”

“But at this moment I’m glad what kind of bravery the Ukrainian people show, how much they are able to defend their country.”

MOSCOW — The Kremlin says that the West needs to lift some of its sanctions against Russia for grain shipments from Ukraine to resume.

Western allies have accused Russia of blocking grain exports from Ukraine in a move that is exacerbating food shortages in Africa and other regions.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that “we categorically reject the accusations and accuse Western countries of taking a series of unlawful actions that has led to the blockade.”

Speaking in a conference call with reporters, he added that the West, in particular, “must cancel the unlawful decisions that hamper chartering ships and exporting grain.”

MOSCOW — The Russian military says it has destroyed a large Ukrainian unit with equipment at a railway station in the east.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday that the Russian warplanes hit the railway station in Pokrovsk when an assault brigade that arrived to reinforce the Ukrainian forces in the region was unloading there.

Konashenkov also said that the Russian military destroyed Ukraine’s electronic intelligence center in Dniprovske in the southern Mykolaiv region, killing 11 Ukrainian soldiers and 15 foreign experts. His claims couldn’t be independently confirmed.

Konashenkov stated that the Russian air force has struck 48 troops and weapons concentrations and two ammunition depots over the past 24 hours.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, the Russian artillery hit over 500 Ukrainian targets, including troops concentrations and artillery positions, he said.

LONDON — Britain’s military says Russia has suffered substantial losses among its elite units because of “complacency” among commanders and failure to anticipate strong Ukrainian resistance.

The U.K. Ministry of Defense says the airbone VDV has been involved in “several notable tactical failures” since the Feb. 24 invasion, including the attempt to capture and hold Hostomel Airfield near Kyiv early in the war and failed attempts to cross the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine.

In its daily intelligence update, the defense ministry said the VDV had been sent on missions “better suited to heavier armoured infantry and has sustained heavy casualties during the campaign. Its mixed performance likely reflects a strategic mismanagement of this capability and Russia’s failure to secure air superiority.”

It said “the failure to anticipate Ukrainian resistance and the subsequent complacency of Russian commanders has led to significant losses across many of Russia’s more elite units.”

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