President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that what was at stake in Ukraine was Russia’s very existence as a state.
In comments to workers at an aviation factory, Putin repeated his familiar argument that the West was bent on pulling Russia apart.
“So for us this is not a geopolitical task, but a task of the survival of Russian statehood, creating conditions for the future development of the country and our children,” he said.
Putin has accused the West of using Ukraine as a tool to wage war against Russia and inflict on it a “strategic defeat”. The United States and its allies say they are helping Ukraine to defend itself from an imperial-style invasion that has destroyed Ukrainian cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced millions to flee their homes.
Putin said in a response to a question that he had been worried about the economy when the West imposed unprecedented waves of sanctions last year but it had proved stronger than anyone had thought.