Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose armed forces have been fighting against Ukraine for nearly 20 months in an effort to conquer large swaths of Ukrainian territory, has claimed the war is not a conflict over territory but about “principles.”
Tens of thousands of people have been killed, entire towns and villages wiped out and billions of dollars of infrastructure destroyed since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. Meanwhile, the Russian president has attempted to annex four Ukrainian regions in violation of international law to add to the Crimean peninsula occupied by Moscow’s forces since 2014.
However on Thursday, October 5, Putin claimed that
“The Ukraine crisis is not a territorial conflict”
” and I want to make that clear. Russia is the world’s largest country in terms of land area, and we have no interest in conquering additional territory,” Putin said at the Valdai Forum in Sochi.
Russia was not “attempting to establish regional geopolitical balance,” in Ukraine. Instead, he said the issue was “about the principles underlying the new international order.”
The denial of these principles, one of them being “a balance in the world where no one can unilaterally force or compel others to live or behave as a hegemon pleases,” is what causes conflicts, Putin claimed, apparently referring to the West.
Western elites “need an enemy to justify the need for military action and expansion” and made Moscow into one, Putin claimed.
He has previously attempted to justify the war by claiming Ukraine’s aspiration to join NATO was a dire threat to Russia, that his invasion was a mission to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, and has emphasized his view that Ukraine is part of Russia, culturally, linguistically and politically. He has even compared himself to the 18th century Russian czar, Peter the Great.