In a speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the United States declared itself God’s own representatives on earth. He added that the U.S. has declared its interests sacred, which makes the world unstable. The much-hyped speech was delayed by more than 90 minutes because of cyberattacks. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists in an impromptu conference call that the speech was postponed due to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the conference’s systems.
Who is allegedly behind the attack was unclear at the time. The Ukrainian IT Army, a hacker collective, aptly named the St. Petersburg Forum as a target a few days ago on its Telegram channel.
Putin’s speech at the annual conference, one of his more substantial speeches since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine almost four months ago, was seen as an opportunity for the world to get some insight into his thinking. However, when Putin took the stage in the western Russian city, he wasted no time on pleasantries and went straight into attacks on the United States and its allies. “They live in the past on their own under their own delusions … They think that … they have won and then everything else is a colony, a back yard. And the people living there are second-class citizens,” he said, adding that Russia’s “special operation” — or war — has become a “lifesaver for the West to blame all their problems on Russia.”
In response to Western countries’ accusations that Russia was to blame for the problems in their economies, Putin blamed the United States and the European Union for rising food prices. Ukraine is a major food producer, but its entire production and supply chain has been affected by Russia’s invasion. The United Nations has said that Russia’s involvement in the war could push up to 49 million more people into famine or famine-like conditions.
Last week European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said that food has become part of the Kremlin’s arsenal of terror. Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain and blocking Ukrainian ports, accusations that appear to have been confirmed by satellite images showing Russian ships being loaded with Ukrainian grain and reports of Russian troops blocking access to Black Sea ports. On top of that, Russia is blocking maritime access to the Black Sea ports held by Ukraine, meaning that even the grain still under Ukrainian control cannot be exported to many countries that rely on it.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Western sanctions for hurting Russia’s economy, saying the restrictions are “crazy” and “reckless.” “Their intention is clear to crush the Russian economy by breaking down the chain of logistical chains, freezing national assets and attacking living standards,” he added. “But they were not successful. It has not worked out.” The Russian president has framed his decision to invade Ukraine as a response to Kyiv’s growing diplomatic and security ties with the West. Last week, he hinted that his aim in Ukraine is the restoration of Russia as an imperial power.