Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with heads of international news agencies in St. Petersburg, June 6, 2024
© Valentina Pevtsova / SputnikRussian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with heads of international news agencies in St. Petersburg, June 6, 2024
The Russian president has discussed how the Ukraine conflict began, and how it could end, with foreign media agencies

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered an overview of how he sees the roots of the Ukraine conflict roots and where the crisis may be headed. He also spoke about the prospects of peace and speculation about a full-fledged war with NATO.

Putin spent over three hours answering a wide range of questions from representatives of international news agencies on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Wednesday.
1 Zelensky's questionable legitimacy

Putin argued that the crisis stems from a US-backed coup that overthrew Kiev's elected government in 2014.
"Everyone believes that Russia started the war in Ukraine. But no one - I want to emphasize this - no one in the West, in Europe, wants to remember how this tragedy began. It began with a coup in Ukraine - an unconstitutional coup d'etat."
Now Vladimir Zelensky's legitimacy has also come under question, as according to Ukrainian laws his powers were supposed to be transferred to the country's parliament after his term as president ended last month,

Putin argued. He suggested that Western backers may "tolerate" and keep Zelensky around long enough to force through more unpopular policies - like lowering the conscription age all the way down to 18 - then oust him, possibly as early as next spring. "They have several candidates to replace him."
2 Bulls**t' NATO claims

Asked about NATO's preparations to defend against a possible Russian "invasion," Putin suggested that Western governments are spreading absurd and false fears to help maintain their global hegemony.
"Look, someone has imagined that Russia wants to attack NATO," he said. "Have you gone completely insane? Are you as thick as a plank? Who came up with this nonsense, this bulls**t?"
3 'Asymmetric' measures loom

Putin called out the US and other NATO members for supplying long-range missiles targeting deep into Russian territory. He warned that such escalations could backfire for the West as Moscow weighs its options.
"If someone deems it possible to supply such weapons to the war zone, to strike our territory..., why shouldn't we supply similar weapons to those regions of the world where they will be used against sensitive sites of these countries?" Putin asked. "We can respond asymmetrically. We will give it a thought."

4 How the conflict could end

The administration of US President Joe Biden could quickly stop the fighting in Ukraine by halting the flow of weapons to Kiev, Putin said. He told journalists that he had received a letter from Biden regarding the crisis, and he replied by arguing that the bloodshed would stop within two to three months if munitions shipments are cut off.
Russian leaders have repeatedly claimed that Ukraine's Western military backers are merely prolonging the conflict without changing its outcome.

5 US election offers little hope

Putin said Russia has no expectation of serious policy changes resulting from this year's US presidential election. Even if Biden loses to Republican challenger Donald Trump, relations with Moscow will likely remain antagonistic. "Basically, we don't care (who wins)," the Russian leader said.

Biden's administration is tearing down the US political system by using the courts to prosecute Trump, Putin added. "They are burning themselves from the inside." In any case, he said, the new US administration would have to abandon Washington's focus on "global liberalism" and hegemony - instead prioritizing the interests of the American people - to enable a major shift in foreign policy.
"No one is interested in Ukraine in the United States," Putin said. "They are interested in the greatness of the United States. They are not fighting for Ukraine; they are fighting for their leadership in the world. They do not want Russia to be successful, to prevail, because they think it will be damaging for the leadership of the United States."
6 Germany lost sovereignty

Putin also painted a bleak picture of Moscow's relationship with Germany. Berlin's supplying of tanks and missiles to Kiev has destroyed Russo-German relations, he said, and providing long-range weapons for strikes on Russian territory could lead to "very serious problems."

Germany has allowed the US to devastate its economy by blowing up the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines and imposing failed sanctions against Russia, Putin claimed. The US also controls the flow of information in Germany, he added.
"No one is trying to protect German interests. Germany is not sovereign, but there are Germans, and someone has to think of their interests."