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Russian President Vladimir Putin, ostensibly in the form of a fight for someone who never quite escapes rumors that he is seriously ill, insisted on Wednesday that Russia has lost “nothing”. Never mind that, according to UK estimates, 25,000 of his soldiers have died in the last six months in Ukraine.

This topic is never raised when the Russian leader speaks. Furthermore, Putin continued, addressing an annual economic forum in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia “cannot be isolated”.

“It’s impossible to do,” he said, “you just have to look at the map.”

But Oleg Ignatov, who previously worked in Putin’s United Russia party but now works for the International Crisis Group of experts, says Russia has people to talk to, from China to Azerbaijan, but what it has need at the moment is concrete help in the trenches to win this war. And this, Ignatov says, is not forthcoming.

“Russia needs technology. Russia needs ammunition,” he tells Fox News.


Russian President Vladimir Putin makes gestures during a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.
(Sergei Bobylev, Sputnik, photo of the Kremlin swimming pool via AP)

“Russia needs military equipment. Yes, everything.” Ignatov says: “Russia has no allies, except perhaps Belarus. But she is not helping in terms of soldiers. And therefore, in terms of military operation, Russia is isolated.”

Putin was also provocative of the Russian economy.

“Russia is facing financial and technological aggression from the West,” he said. “I’m talking about aggression. There’s no other word for that. But the stock exchanges and currency exchanges have stabilized. Inflation is falling. The level of unemployment is at an all-time low. It’s under 4%.”

But Ignatov, like many who are watching the Russian economy closely, says, will grant sanctions for some time – perhaps a few more months – and they will have a more dramatic effect.

Andrey Kfortov, who heads Russia’s Council for International Affairs, says that in reality the country is not in a deep economic crisis so far and Putin has made an effort to project it from the Vladivostok podium. Kfortov added that the deficits that exist right now in Russia do not affect all citizens. And, he said, “Most Russians aren’t that connected to the global economy.” The state, of course, is a major employer. Moscow has ways to keep employment data favorable.


Putin spoke at length about growing ties with the East as he was in the company of leaders and politicians from Asian countries. He highlighted the problems in Western economies and said the future lies in the east, where he said there are more than enough buyers for Russia’s abundant energy reserves. The Russian president called Europe’s plans for a Russian gas price limit “stupid” and said he would simply turn off the taps if that happened.

On Putin’s further claims that almost all Russians support his war, Ignatov said that probably more than half “do not oppose” the war. He explains it as part of the unwritten social contract of Putin’s years in which the Russians at one point collectively decided that politics is not for the people. Therefore, they do not need to take responsibility for their government’s actions.

“It means that the Kremlin is responsible for every political decision,” says Ignatov. “And Russian society doesn’t want to see itself as part of this process.”


And what does the rest of the non-Western world think of this war against which many have not said a word? Do they support it, I asked Kfortov, or are many simply keeping quiet appropriately?

“Most of these countries sit on the fence and monitor the situation,” he says. “They prefer not to take sides. They take advantage of the opportunities that come with it. China and India get a discount on oil. Each country plays its own way. Russia cannot count on particular generosity.”

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