Defiant Putin says Russia will flourish without the west

“We all hear about so-called Putin inflation in the West,” Mr. Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, an annual business conference once known as “Russia’s Davos,” seeming to refer to President Biden’s efforts to blame Russian aggression for what he calls a “Putin price hike” that is hurting American consumers.

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“When I see this, I always think: Who’s this meant for, this stupidity?” Mr. Putin said. “For someone who doesn’t know how to read or write.”…

Mr. Putin appeared onstage for more than three hours, in his most extended public appearance since he ordered the Ukraine invasion in February. But he did little to clarify his war aims, reprising his descriptions of Ukrainian territory as historically belonging to Russia while avoiding the even more hostile rhetoric of other Russian officials.

“Only the people who live there will determine their future,” Mr. Putin said of the territory in eastern Ukraine that Russia is capturing, leaving open the question of whether he will seek to annex it. “And we will respect any choice they make.”

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