Putin: The US wants to dismember Russia and rob its vast resources

Vladimir Putin / Photo EPA-EFE/ALEXANDER KAZAKOV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT

The Russian president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin warned the West, ahead of the March 2024 elections, that any foreign interference in Russia would be considered aggression.

As he spoke today to the World Council of the Russian People, led by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, Putin's image was displayed on a large screen next to two large old Orthodox icons, world media reported. The Russian Orthodox Church openly supports Russia's war in Ukraine, and Putin embraces its conservatism as part of his vision of Russian national identity.

Putin said the West was gripped by a racist Russophobia that portrayed Russians as a nation of backward "slaves" and warned that the US, he said, "wants to dismember Russia and rob its vast resources".

Putin, who is 71, also warned Russians that they should learn the lessons of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, the civil war and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which he said had divided the Russian people.

"I want to emphasize: we consider any external interference, provocations aimed at causing inter-ethnic or inter-religious conflicts as aggressive acts against our country," Putin said.

"Any attempt to sow inter-ethnic or inter-religious discord, division of our society, treason, is a crime against all of Russia. We will not allow anyone to divide Russia," he added.

The election campaign for the presidential elections will start next month and Putin is expected to run. He has been in power since 2012, and before that he ruled from 2000 to 2008.

Russian Patriarch Kirill said he would pray that Putin would continue to work "for the good" of Russia and the Russian people.

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