Putin accuses the US of playing God with its ‘sacred interests’, accuses them of treating countries like ‘colonies’ and slams ‘stupid’ Western sanctions

  • Vladimir Putin today accused the US of treating states like ‘colonies’ in address
  • Russian tyrant said ‘nothing will be as it used to be’ in speech at ‘Russia’s Davos’ 
  • The address was delayed more than 90 minutes following ‘massive’ cyber attack 
  • Russia’s flagship economic forum kicked off on Wednesday. Attendees include representatives of the Taliban and separatist authorities from eastern Ukraine

By CHRIS JEWERS FOR MAILONLINE and AFP

PUBLISHED: 07:14 EDT, 17 June 2022 | UPDATED: 13:30 EDT, 17 June 2022

Russian president Vladimir Putin today accused the US of playing God and treating countries like ‘colonies’ as he brushed off the impact of sanctions in a speech to an economic forum dubbed ‘Russia‘s Davos’.

Amid a lengthy denunciation of the US and its allies, Putin, 69, warned ‘nothing will be as it used to be’ as he delivered the St Petersburg Economic Forum address more than 90 minutes later than expected after the event suffered a cyber attack.   

When he eventually took to the stage, Putin issued a thinly-veiled threat to oligarchs thinking of quitting his regime. 

‘It’s safer in your own house,’ he said. ‘Those who didn’t want to listen to this have lost millions abroad.’

Putin spent much of the 73-minute address focussing intently on his notes, as he warned Russians ‘are strong people and can cope with any challenge’.

He said: ‘Like our ancestors, we will solve any problem, the entire thousand-year history of our country speaks of this.’

Putin drew applause from the hall when he reaffirmed his determination to continue the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine that has unleashed what he said was an ‘unprecedented’ barrage of Western economic sanctions.

Putin warned the US and its allies ‘think they have won’ and said Moscow’s war in Ukraine had become a ‘lifesaver for the West to blame all the problem on Russia.’ 

He added that the US considers itself ‘God’s emissary on Earth’, and that Western sanctions were founded on a false premise that Russia had no economic sovereignty.

Russia’s flagship economic forum kicked off on Wednesday, with attendees including representatives of the Taliban and separatist authorities from eastern Ukraine. The event is scheduled to run until Saturday.

The Russian leader is set to be be joined by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Kazakhstan’s Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik.Russian president Vladimir Putin today accused the US of treating countries like 'colonies' as he brushed off the impact of sanctions in a key speech to an economic forum dubbed ' Russia 's Davos'+12View gallery

Russian president Vladimir Putin today accused the US of treating countries like ‘colonies’ as he brushed off the impact of sanctions in a key speech to an economic forum dubbed ‘ Russia ‘s Davos’Amid a lengthy denunciation of the US and its allies, Putin warned 'nothing will be as it used to be' as he delivered the St Petersburg Economic Forum address more than 90 minutes later than expected after the event suffered a cyber attack

Amid a lengthy denunciation of the US and its allies, Putin warned ‘nothing will be as it used to be’ as he delivered the St Petersburg Economic Forum address more than 90 minutes later than expected after the event suffered a cyber attackPutin accuses the West of ‘Russophobia’ in combative speech

Putin declared the end of 'the era of the unipolar world'. He said: 'When they won the Cold War, the US declared themselves God's own representatives on earth, people who have no responsibilities - only interests'

Putin declared the end of ‘the era of the unipolar world’. He said: ‘When they won the Cold War, the US declared themselves God’s own representatives on earth, people who have no responsibilities – only interests’Putin addressed Russia's political and economic elite at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, a showcase event this year being held with almost no Western participation

Putin addressed Russia’s political and economic elite at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, a showcase event this year being held with almost no Western participationPutin warned the US and its allies 'think they have won'

He said Moscow's war in Ukraine had become a 'lifesaver for the West to blame all the problem on Russia'

Putin warned the US and its allies ‘think they have won’ and said Moscow’s war in Ukraine had become a ‘lifesaver for the West to blame all the problem on Russia’Kremlin announces Putin’s speech will be delayed due to cyberattack

 Putin, speaking at the event on Friday, declared the end of ‘the era of the unipolar world’. He said: ‘When they won the Cold War, the US declared themselves God’s own representatives on earth, people who have no responsibilities – only interests. 

‘They have declared those interests sacred. Now it’s one-way traffic, which makes the world unstable’.

Putin went on to blame the West for trying to damage the Russian economy with ‘crazy’ and ‘reckless’ sanctions.  

‘Their intention is clear to crush the Russian economy by breaking down the chain the logistical chains, freezing national assets and attacking the living standards, but they were not successful,’ he said. 

‘It has not worked out. Russian business people have rallied together working diligently, conscientiously, and step-by-step, we are normalising the economic situation.’

He said the main aim of the incursion was to defend ‘our’ people in the largely Russian-speaking Donbas region of eastern Ukraine – a justification that Kyiv and the West dismiss as a baseless pretext for a war that has already led to the occupation of parts of southern Ukraine far beyond the Donbas.

Putin said the Russian soldiers in the Donbas were also fighting to defend Russia’s own ‘rights to secure development’.

‘The West has fundamentally refused to fulfil its earlier obligations, it turned out to be simply impossible to reach any new agreements with it,’ Putin said.

‘In the current situation, against a backdrop of increasing risks for us and threats, Russia’s decision to conduct a special military operation was forced – difficult, of course, but forced and necessary.’

The Kremlin had earlier been forced to postpone the speech following a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack that began on Thursday, government spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters.

‘Problems arose with the distribution of badges and confirmation of access to the main plenary session,’ Peskov said. ‘We will fix it, but it will take time.’

As Russian forces moved into Ukraine on February 24, Kyiv called on hacktivists to help. There was no immediate reponse from Ukraine to the cyberattack. 

Putin has been seeking to ramp up ties with Asia and Africa after he sent troops to pro-Western Ukraine in February and the West pummelled the country with devastating economic sanctions.

The annual forum (SPIEF), often dubbed the Russian Davos, has been the country’s main showcase for investors, attracting global leaders and business elites.

This year delegations from more than 40 countries are expected to be in attendance, including those from China, Turkey, Egypt and a number of countries in Asia and Africa. But there was a notable lack of the Western investors and investment bankers who turned up in previous years.

‘Officials from unfriendly countries will not be coming,’ Putin’s top foreign policy advisor, Yuri Ushakov, said ahead of the forum in the Russian president’s hometown, using a term to describe states that have imposed sanctions on Moscow.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, a close Moscow ally, is expected to take part in the forum via video link.

Putin is also expected to meet with the leaders of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine that Moscow recognised as independent before sending troops into its pro-Western neighbour.

Food security is expected to be a major topic on the agenda after Moscow’s military campaign and sanctions disrupted deliveries of wheat and other commodities from Russia and Ukraine.  Putin calls on ‘patriotic’ oligarchs to invest money in Russia

Pictured: Employees wearing personal protective equipment walk through the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 17, 2022

Pictured: Employees wearing personal protective equipment walk through the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 17, 2022

Representatives of Afghanistan’s Taliban arrived at the forum on Wednesday and are expected to discuss wheat supplies with Russia.

‘The situation is not easy, rather it can be described as difficult given the unprecedented economic war,’ Peskov said Tuesday.

‘But there is no evil without good. This situation pushes us and friendly countries to search for new way of cooperation,’ he added. 

Western sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine combined with related supply chain issues have starkly altered Russia’s export-import dynamics, with the country now looking to the likes of China and India and turning away from the West.

Key banks have lost access to the global payments system SWIFT, Western brands are shunning the country and selling up in a hurry, writing off billions of dollars in assets – and the European Union has promised an embargo on Russian oil.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko lamented Russia’s backwardness in technology, and said the ‘painful process’ of Russia switching to its own technology was under way.

‘You are competing with global companies that have overtaken you by whole generations,’ he told an audience of Russian business representatives.

Organizers of the gathering have been telling foreign participants to be sure to bring cash – not necessarily for making investments, but for spending money. 

The advice is a quiet acknowledgment of the economic difficulties Russia faces as it tries to promote itself to international businesses.Participants attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 17

Participants attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 17

With Russia under wide sanctions after sending troops into Ukraine, most foreign bank cards don’t work in the country. 

The attendance list is another sign of Russia’s uncertain economic prospects. As of early June, about 2,700 business representatives from 90 countries were expected to attend – far below the 13,500 participants from 140 countries reported last year.

Organizers did not provide a list of foreign businesses attending, but the program for the more than 100 panel discussions showed few speakers from outside Russia.

Some were from China, and the trade minister of the United Arab Emirates was scheduled. Denis Pushilin, leader of the Ukrainian separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, announced he plans to attend.

The forum aims to portray the country as orderly and full of attractive opportunities for clever and adventurous investors. This year’s program carries the theme to an extent that is overly optimistic for Russia’s straitened circumstances.

It comes less than four months after wide-ranging sanctions were imposed and hundreds of foreign companies pulled out of Russia, and the full effect these sanctions have had on the Russian economy is unclear.

Shuttered storefronts give Moscow’s shopping malls a foreboding atmosphere, but officials claim Russian entrepreneurs can step in to revive the consumer economy – as shown over the weekend when a Russian tycoon opened the first of the restaurants he bought from McDonald’sPictured: The scene was ready for Russian President Vladimir Putin to address a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 17, 2022, however it was delayed due to a cyberattack

Pictured: The scene was ready for Russian President Vladimir Putin to address a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 17, 2022, however it was delayed due to a cyberattack

There was another reminder of how economic ties to the West have been cut Wednesday as Swedish furniture giant Ikea – which suspended its Russia operations in March – said it would now seek to ‘find new ownership’ for its four factories there.

The ruble, after losing half its value in the early days of the Ukraine conflict, has strengthened to levels not seen in several years after Russia imposed strict financial measures like capital controls, a heartening image for Russians but possibly a long-term problem making exports more expensive.

One of the most closely watched sessions at the forum is likely to be Thursday’s panel on Russia’s economic prospects featuring heavyweights including Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Elvira Nabiullina, head of Russia’s central bank.

Nabiullina so far has given ambiguous assessments, saying recently that ‘the effects of the sanctions are less acute than we feared… but it is premature to say that the full effect of the sanctions has manifested itself.’

One of the forum’s most popular events won’t be held: Putin’s question-and-answer session with executives of major international news organizations. 

Instead, he will meet with the heads of Russian news media and ‘front-line reporters’ from Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, Peskov said prior to the event.

A representative of the Taliban also is expected, although Russia formally designates the Taliban as a terrorist group. Kremlin spokesman Peskov said this didn’t mean Russia would recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

‘There is no talk of recognizing (the Taliban),’ Peskov said Wednesday. ‘However, there are many humanitarian problems that obligate many countries to come into contact with representatives of the Taliban,’ he added.