- Putin defended invading Ukraine on Tuesday.
- He said Russia’s goals there were “absolutely clear and noble” and that it “didn’t have a choice.”
- His comments came after Russia acknowledged heavy losses in Ukraine, and its economy faltered.
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the botched invasion of Ukraine on Tuesday as his country continued losing elite troops and getting pummeled with economic sanctions.
“Its goals are absolutely clear and noble,” Putin said during a visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s far eastern Amur region, according to Reuters. “It’s clear that we didn’t have a choice. It was the right decision.”
Putin has long justified the invasion of Ukraine as a way to repel what he called the US and NATO’s eastward expansion, which he considers a threat to Russia.
He has also said that Russia needed to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine, a claimed based on debunked information falsely casting the government there as Nazis.
His comments came as Russia continued to lose weaponry and elite troops, including top generals, in the fighting in Ukraine. Reports have emerged of Russian troops being ill-equipped to fight amid staunch Ukrainian resistance, a scenario they did not expect.
A BBC investigation found that Russia’s losses in Ukraine included many officers that take over a decade and between thousands and millions of dollars to train.
Putin hit back at the sanctions, saying: “We don’t intend to be isolated … It is impossible to severely isolate anyone in the modern world — especially such a vast country as Russia,” Reuters reported.
Putin made his Tuesday visit to the cosmodrome alongside Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, one of his top allies who has also sanctioned by Western countries over Ukraine. Belarus borders Ukraine’s north, while Russia borders Ukraine’s east and northeast.
Russian troops have withdrawn from northern Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, in recent days as Ukrainian forces retook control of many towns and cities. Ukraine, the US, and Britain believe Russia is regrouping in the country’s east for a concentrated attack on the Donbas region.