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Putin vows Russia won't be isolated in meeting with ally

April 12, 2022

Holding talks with Russia's closest international ally, Belarus' leader Alexander Lukashenko, President Vladimir Putin said he will counter attempts to isolate Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (R front) arrive by helicopter at the Vostochny
Putin steps off his helicopter to meet Lukashenko, who arrived in Russia's far east ahead of himImage: Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian President Press Office/dpa/picture alliance

The Russian president headed to the country's far east on Tuesday to the Vostochny Cosmodrome space launch facility together with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Putin's visit marked his first known trip outside Moscow since Russia launched its war in Ukraine on February 24. He insisted that Russia has no intention to isolate itself amid widespread outrage at Russia's invasion and sanctions imposed by the West.

What did Putin say?

Putin used the visit to highlight the success of the Soviet Union's space program, citing it as evidence that Russia could achieve spectacular leaps without help from the West.

However, the Russian leader said, Moscow was keen to work with other countries.

"We don't intend to be isolated," Putin said. "It is impossible to severely isolate anyone in the modern world — especially such a vast country as Russia."

"We will work with those of our partners who want to cooperate," Putin said.

He also mentioned the war in Ukraine, referring to its as a "special military operation'' to "ensure Russia's own security."

"Its goals are absolutely clear and noble," Putin said. "It's clear that we didn't have a choice. It was the right decision."

How sanctions are changing Russia

Russia used a false pretext that Ukraine was responsible for genocide in eastern Ukraine in its justification for launching its war in Ukraine. The Kremlin claimed that it needed to "denazify" the country, without providing any credible evidence for its claims.   

Ukrainian forces have confounded Russian expectations by mounting stiff resistance. Meanwhile, the West has imposed far-reaching sanctions on Russia to exert pressure on Moscow to end its war, which has killed thousands and displaced millions.

Russia is presently facing soaring inflation and capital flight while also struggling with the prospect of a possible debt default. However, Putin dismissed the West's sanctions.

"That Blitzkrieg on which our foes were counting did not work," Putin said.

Meeting with Belarusian ally

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had arrived in the far eastern region ahead of Putin, Russian state news agency Ria Novosti reported. The pair's visit coincided with Russia's "Space Day."

The two were expected to talk about closer integration between Russia and Belarus, as well as the war in Ukraine.

Sanctions have been placed on Belarus for allowing Russia to use his country as a staging point for attacks on Ukraine. Putin said this highlighted the need for a show of solidarity.

"I am convinced that in the current situation, when Western countries have unleashed an all-out sanctions war against Russia and Belarus, it is important to strengthen our integration within the framework of the Union State," said Putin, referring to the Union State agreement that envisions a deepening of relations between the 2 countries. 

“We will continue to jointly oppose any attempts to slow down the development of our countries or artificially isolate them from the global economy," Putin said. 

Lukashenko appeared defiant when it came to sanctions imposed by the West.

"Why an earth are we getting so worried about these sanctions?" he was reported as saying.

Lukashenko has previously insisted that Belarus must be involved in negotiations to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. He also claims that Belarus had been unfairly labeled "an accomplice of the aggressor."

rc/fb (dpa, Reuters, AP)