Putin: ‘No Ill Intentions’ Toward Ukraine as Russian War Crime Accusations Mount

Putin: ‘No Ill Intentions’ Toward Ukraine as Russian War Crime Accusations Mount

Russian president criticized attempts to sanction Russia and said that international isolation would help Russia develop home-grown industries.

Russian president Vladimir Putin promised on Friday that Russia had no “ill intentions” toward Ukraine, even as its troops continued to advance through the country’s interior and toward Kyiv.

Speaking to the Russian state-run Rossiya 24 news channel, Putin said that the crisis would soon be over and suggested that neighboring countries “think about how to normalize relations” in the aftermath of the conflict.

Putin also criticized attempts to sanction Moscow.

“I would also advise (Russia’s neighbors) not to exacerbate the situation, not to impose any restrictions,” Putin said. “We fulfill our obligations and will continue to fulfill them. We do not see any need to worsen our relationships. All our actions are always in response to unfriendly acts toward the Russian Federation.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, launched in the early hours of February 24, has resulted in thousands of deaths on both sides and has led more than one million Ukrainians to flee their homes. Although Putin said in previous remarks that the invasion was continuing as planned, most outside observers have indicated that Russia’s advance has faltered in the face of ferocious Ukrainian resistance. 

Russian forces have continued to make gains, though. On Friday, they advanced in the country’s east and captured the Zaporizhzhia power station, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, after an intense battle. The plant suffered surface damage during the fighting, but the reactor core was not penetrated, and no excess radiation was detected in the battle’s aftermath.

The Kremlin has been the subject of near-worldwide condemnation for its invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. embassy in Ukraine characterized the attack on the nuclear plant as a “war crime,” while other pro-Ukrainian sources have described Russian attacks on urban apartment blocks as the intentional targeting of civilians with similar language.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have initiated talks to end the conflict in neighboring Belarus. Little progress has been made, however.

The United States and other Western nations subjected Russia to a raft of international sanctions in the aftermath of the invasion, and Moscow’s stock market fell sharply in value after the U.S.-led decision to disconnect the country’s largest banks from the SWIFT financial transfer system.

Putin brushed off the impact of international sanctions in his remarks.

“We will just have to move some projects a little to the right, to acquire additional competencies,” he said, arguing that Russia would benefit from its isolation because it would have time to establish home-grown industries.

Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.

Image: Reuters.