- This content was produced in Russia where coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine is restricted by law
- Putin says positive direction from the front
- He says he hopes the troops will score more victories
- He says the military operation will plan for it
- The economy says it performed better than expected
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said the military operation in Ukraine had gained a positive momentum and hoped his soldiers would achieve more victories after Russia declared control of the eastern Ukrainian town of Solidar.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 triggered one of Europe’s deadliest conflicts since World War II and the largest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Russia said on Friday its forces had taken Solidar, a rare success for Moscow after months of battlefield setbacks.
“The dynamic is positive,” Putin told Russia 1 state television when asked about the Solidar takeover. “Everything is developing within the framework of the plan of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff.”
“I hope our fighters will please us more with the results of their fight,” Putin said.
Putin is now portraying the war in Ukraine as an existential battle with an aggressive and arrogant West, and has said Russia will use all available means to protect itself and its people from any aggressor.
The United States and its allies condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an imperialist land grab, while Ukraine vowed to fight until the last Russian soldier was expelled from its territory.
Ukraine’s regional governor said on Saturday that Ukrainian forces were still fighting for control of Solidar. Washington based Institute for the Study of War He said it was unlikely that Ukrainian forces would remain in positions within Solidar itself.
Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in Solidar.
Neither side has released recent numbers on the war’s death toll.
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 not only than what our opponents expected but also what we expected.”
Putin said unemployment was a key indicator.
“Unemployment is at a historic low. Inflation is lower than expected, and most importantly, it is a downward trend.”
Russia’s economy shrank in 2022 under the weight of sanctions, but it was far less than the collapse many economists predicted.
Many sectors such as aviation and the auto industry have been hit hard, and some economists say increased arms production has cushioned the downturn.
The Russian government expects the $2.1 trillion economy to contract by 0.8% in 2023.
Russia’s 2023 budget is based on a Urals blend price of around $70.1 per barrel, even though Russia’s main blend is currently trading at less than $50 per barrel.
Editing by Raisa Kasulowski
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