- This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine
- Putin says there is a positive trend from the front
- He says he hopes the troops will bring more victories
- He says that a military operation will be planned
- He says the economy is doing better than expected
MOSCOW, Jan 15 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said the military operation in Ukraine had gained positive momentum and hoped his troops would score more victories after Russia took control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Soledar.
Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine triggered one of Europe’s deadliest conflicts since World War II and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Russia said on Friday that its forces had taken control of Soledar, a rare success for Moscow after months of upheavals on the battlefield.
“The dynamics are positive,” Putin told state-run Russia 1 television when asked about Soledar’s takeover. “Everything is being developed within the plan of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff.
And I hope that our fighters will make us even more happy with the results of their battles,” Putin said.
Putin now presents the war in Ukraine as an existential battle with an aggressive and arrogant West, and has said that Russia will use all available means to protect itself and its people from any aggressor.
The United States and its allies have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an imperial land grab, while Ukraine has vowed to fight until the last Russian soldier is expelled from its territory.
Ukraine’s regional governor said Saturday that Ukrainian forces were still struggling to keep control of Soledar. The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said it was unlikely that Ukrainian forces still held positions inside Soledar itself.
Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in Soledar.
Neither side publishes the latest data on the number of people killed in the war.
Although the West has imposed what it says are unprecedented sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine, the economy of the world’s largest producer of natural resources has shown resilience.
Putin says Russia is now turning away from the West and will trade with Asian powers such as China and India.
“The situation in the economy is stable,” Putin said. “Much better than not only what our opponents predicted, but also what we predicted.”
Putin said that unemployment is a key indicator.
“Unemployment is at a historic low.” Inflation is lower than expected and, importantly, on a downward trend.
The Russian economy shrank in 2022 under the weight of sanctions, but much less than the collapse predicted by many economists.
Many sectors such as aviation and car manufacturing have been hit hard, and some economists say a rise in arms production has cushioned the cuts.
The Russian government predicts that the $2.1 trillion economy will shrink by 0.8% in 2023.
Russia’s 2023 budget is based on a Urals blend price of around $70.1 a barrel, although Russia’s main blend is currently trading below $50 a barrel.
Editing by Raissa Kasolovski
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