The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is currently being held in St. Petersburg from June 14 to 17. The highlight of the forum was the plenary session where Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech, which took place on Friday.
Kyiv Post has compiled a list of the five most dubious statements made during his speech and a conversation with journalists afterwards…
1) ‘Zelensky is not a Jew, but he is a disgrace to the Jewish people.’
Putin claimed he has "many Jewish friends" who apparently have a very strong opinion of President Zelensky.
"They say that Zelensky is not Jewish, that he is a disgrace to the Jewish people,” Putin said, adding: "I'm not joking.”
The Russian president then once again accused Kyiv of "supporting neo-Nazism."
This was Putin's response to American political expert Dmitry Simes, who moderated the plenary session. Simes had claimed the West fails to comprehend accusations of Nazism against Ukraine due to Zelensky being Jewish.
Moscow claims Ukraine's treatment of Russian speakers within the country is comparable to the actions of Nazi Germany.
2) ‘Russia destroyed five American Patriot air defence systems near Kyiv.’
Putin claimed Russia had successfully destroyed five American Patriot air defense systems near Kyiv.
"If we were capable of destroying five Patriot complexes near Kyiv, then why should we refrain from destroying any building in the center of Kyiv? There are no such limitations. However, we have chosen not to do so for various reasons," Putin stated during the forum while responding to a question regarding drone attacks in Russia.
Putin offered no evidence to back up his claim and although one Patriot system was damaged last month, there is nothing to suggest five have been destroyed.
They are still in action in Kyiv, most recently just yesterday when they intercepted six Russian hypersonic missiles.
3) ‘Well, f**k them.’
On the topic of nuclear weapons, Putin dispensed with decorum entirely.
"We have a larger arsenal of such weapons than the NATO countries. They are aware of this fact, and they consistently urge us to engage in negotiations for reduction. Well, to put it bluntly, f**k them," he said.
Additionally, he mentioned that Russia retains the theoretical option to employ nuclear weapons if the state faces an existential threat. Putin also highlighted that Russia has already delivered the initial batch of nuclear warheads to Belarus.
"This constitutes only the initial phase. We intend to fully accomplish the mission by the end of this year," Putin announced.
4) ‘Under another administration of the US president, there might not have been a conflict in Ukraine.’
Putin said that under a different US presidential administration, the conflict in Ukraine might have had the potential to follow a peaceful trajectory. According to Putin, this plan was “disregarded both in Ukraine and other Western capitals.”
He further noted that there are currently "no contacts" between Russian and American officials, adding that Russia is not opposed to holding discussions with the United States.
He followed up by stating that while the West didn't want to engage in dialogue with Russia, eventually, "they will, and we will see".
Putin didn’t mention which administration he would prefer, but Donald Trump has recently outlined and vague and already nonsensical plan to “end the war in 24 hours” that would likely attempt to force Ukraine to give up vast swathes of territory to Russia.
5) ‘The Armed Forces of Ukraine will not succeed in a counteroffensive.’
Putin expressed his skepticism regarding the success of a counteroffensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, specifically mentioning the ongoing battle in the Zaporizhzhia direction.
"As of now, we have reached the initial line of defence, and despite losing several tanks, the battle continues. In my opinion, the Ukrainian armed forces have little to no chance of prevailing here, just as in other directions. I have no doubts about it," Putin stated.
He cited data indicating that, during the approximately week-long counteroffensive, the armed forces of Ukraine suffered significant losses, including "186 tanks and 418 armoured vehicles of various types."
Where he got these numbers remains unknown.
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