Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday set a defiant tone as he delivered a speech about the state of his country's economy following a series of sanctions.
Mr Putin said that efforts to “hammer” the Russian had failed and gloomy forecasts for the Russian economy had not been fulfilled. He said that the country’s economy will overcome sanctions that he called “reckless and insane.”
Addressing the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, he said that sanctions are harmful to those that impose them, and predicted they could cost the EU more than $400 billion.
He began his 73-minute address with a lengthy denunciation of countries that he contends want to weaken Russia.
He said the US “declared victory in the Cold War and later came to think of themselves as God’s own messengers on planet Earth.”
He also attacked the West for blaming him personally for its economic troubles, claiming that negative trends in the global economy have not been caused by what he calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
In a combative speech at Russia's flagship annual economic forum, he said that Russia was not to blame for rising prices on the global grain market, accusing the US of driving up food prices by printing money and “snapping up” food on global markets.
Mr Putin said that Russia stood ready to boost its exports of grain and fertilisers, and that it would send food exports to Africa and the Middle East.
He pledged that Moscow would continue to develop as an “open economy” despite unprecedented western sanctions imposed after it sent forces into neighbouring Ukraine.
Mr Putin said Russia would keep dealing with western companies and that he hoped gas flows would increase via new routes.
He added that Russia would continue to expand economic co-operation “with those who want it”.
Mr Putin took the opportunity to be highly critical of the US, accusing it of treating other countries as “colonies”.
Amid a lengthy denunciation of the US and its allies, Mr Putin said: “Nothing will be as it used to be in global politics.”
He said the European Union had lost its “political sovereignty” by starting down a track that would lead to radicalism and changeover of elites, criticising the bloc's economic policies to address high inflation and inequality.
The three most powerful European leaders visited Kyiv on Thursday to give their backing to Ukraine's bid to join the EU.
Meanwhile, Russia's foreign ministry on Friday accused Brussels of “manipulating” Ukraine after the European Commission recommended the pro-western country be granted candidate status to join the 27-nation bloc.
“We see how for many years the western community has been manipulating the idea of some kind of involvement of Ukraine in their integration structures,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
Ukraine, however, is getting “worse and worse”, she added.
The European Commission on Friday recommended that Ukraine, where Russia is conducting a military operation, and neighbouring Moldova each be named a “candidate” for joining the EU.
Formal “candidate” status for Ukraine could open up a years-long path towards joining the bloc, with the decision likely to be formalised at an EU leaders' summit in Brussels on June 23-24.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the move, saying that he was “grateful” to EU chief Ursula von der Leyen and “each EC member for a historic decision”.