(Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin used a speech at a summit of BRICS leaders on Wednesday to defend Russia’s war in Ukraine and praise the group as a counterweight to US global dominance.
Via video link, he repeated the Kremlin’s story that his invasion, which Ukraine and the West condemned as an imperialist land grab, was Russia’s forced response to the hostile actions of Kiev and Washington.
“Our actions in Ukraine are dictated by only one thing: to end the war unleashed by the West and its satellites against the people living in the Donbas,” Putin said, referring to the eastern part of Ukraine, where Russian proxies have been. has been fighting against the Ukrainian army since 2014.
“I want to note that it was the desire to maintain their hegemony in the world, the desire of some countries to maintain this hegemony, which led to the serious crisis in Ukraine.”
Putin spoke before a forum of countries that have refrained from condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The BRICS – which also includes Brazil, India, China and South Africa – have become extra important to Moscow as the country seeks to ease Western sanctions by boosting trade with Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Russia has repeatedly said it is open to talks to end the 18-month war, but only if it takes into account the “new reality” created by its armed forces that control nearly a fifth of Ukraine. Ukraine demands the recovery of all its territory and the removal of Russian troops.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who separately presented an African peace plan to Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in June, said in response to the Russian president’s speech that BRICS members are continuing efforts to end the would continue to support conflict.
Strengthening the BRICS is part of Russia’s vision to undermine US dominance and build what Putin called “a multipolar world order” in his speech.
He was unable to attend the summit in person due to an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March, accusing him of war crimes in Ukraine.
Russia dismissed the accusation as outrageous and said the move had no legal significance because the country is not a member of the ICC. However, South Africa is a member, meaning the country would have been obliged to arrest him if he had traveled there.
(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Andrew Osborn)