Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with participants in the special military operation
© Sputnik/Kristina KormilitsynaRussian President Vladimir Putin meets with participants in the special military operation at Vishnevsky Central Military Clinical Hospital in Moscow, Russia.
Ukraine itself is not a foe, but Western elites backing it are, the Russian president has said

Ukraine is a mere tool in the hands of the collective West which is using it to fight Russia, President Vladimir Putin said on Monday. He was speaking at a military hospital in Moscow where he met servicemen wounded during the ongoing conflict.

Asked about the enduring Western support for Kiev, the president said the elites of the collective West were actually the true enemy of Russia, rather than Ukraine itself.

"The point is not that they are helping our enemy, but that they are our enemy. They are solving their own problems with [Ukraine's] hands, that's what it's all about," Putin stated.

The conflict between Moscow and Kiev was orchestrated by Western elites, who seek to defeat Russia, he suggested. However, the collective West has been unable to achieve its goals, with the failure already showing in the change of its rhetoric on the conflict, the president explained.
"Those who only yesterday were talking about the need to inflict a 'strategic defeat' on Russia are now looking for words on how to quickly end the conflict."
"We want to end the conflict too, and as quickly as possible, but only on our terms. We have no desire to fight forever, but we are not going to give up our positions either," Putin said.

The battlefield situation is now changing, despite all the aid Kiev has received from the West, the president observed. Russia has been effectively outproducing the entire Western alliance militarily, he suggested, with the country's output destined to grow even further.

"Despite the fact that from time immemorial [the West] has had such a goal - to deal with Russia, it looks like we will deal with them first," Putin stated.

"You probably see it on the battlefield that they are gradually 'deflating'. When a shell flies, it is probably difficult to tell whether they are 'deflated' or not, but in general you probably know: the situation on the battlefield is changing. And this is happening despite the fact that the entire so-called civilized West is fighting against us," he told the servicemen.

According to Russia's latest estimates, over 380,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed or wounded during the conflict. Ukraine has also sustained heavy materiel losses, with an estimated 14,000 tanks and other armored vehicles destroyed. Nearly 160,000 troop losses were during Kiev's botched counteroffensive, launched in early June last year, Moscow claims.