Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday his country has not lost anything from its military operation in Ukraine and has strengthened Russia’s sovereignty.
Speaking at an economic forum, Putin said all of Russia’s actions “are directed at helping the people of the Donbas.”
“This will eventually lead to the strengthening of our country from the inside and in its foreign policy,” Putin said.
Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, and after abandoning a push toward the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, has focused its military efforts in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian fighters have battled Ukrainian forces since 2014.
Putin also criticized an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey that restarted Ukrainian grain shipments amid a global food crisis, saying the exports were not going to the world’s poorest countries.
The Joint Coordination Center that is overseeing the implementation of the deal said that as of Tuesday, more than 2.2 metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs had left Ukrainian ports on about 100 ships. Destinations have included Italy, Turkey, Iran, China, Romania, Djibouti, Germany and Lebanon.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told Reuters that Russian comments about the deal were “unexpected” and “groundless.”
Britain’s defense ministry said early Wednesday that during the prior 24 hours there was heavy fighting in the Donbas, in northern Ukraine near Kharkiv and in southern Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast.
“Multiple concurrent threats spread across 500km will test Russia’s ability to coordinate operational design and reallocate resources across multiple groupings of forces,” the ministry said. “Earlier in the war, Russia’s failure to do this was one of the underlying reasons for the military’s poor performance.”