Vladimir Putin has taken a swipe at Britain and its ‘undemocratic’ election of Liz Truss in a rambling speech.
The Russian leader, whose legs twitched uncontrollably during the Eastern Economics Forum in Vladivostok today, made reference to the new prime minister’s election by a small group of Conservative members.
The strongman also bizarrely claimed that ‘we haven’t lost anything’ in Ukraine and said Russia ‘has not started military activities’ there despite already losing an estimated 50,000 troops.
On Truss, the dictator ironically said: ‘The people of Great Britain don’t take part, in this instance, in the change of government. The ruling elites there have their arrangements.’
Asked about prospects for ties with Britain, Putin said: ‘We know the Tories’ (Conservatives’) position on these questions, including on relations with Russia. It’s their business how to build relations with the Russian Federation.
The Russian leader’s legs twitched uncontrollably during the Eastern Economics Forum in Vladivostok today
Vladimir Putin has taken a swipe at Britain and its ‘undemocratic’ election of Liz Truss in a rambling speech
The Russian leader made reference to the new prime minister’s selection by a small group of Conservative members
A Ukrainian firefighter works to put out a fire at a destroyed residential building after a Russian military strike in Slovyansk
Ruins of a psychiatric hospital are seen after the Russian night shelling in Kramatorsk
‘Our business is to defend our own interests and we will do that consistently, let no one be in any doubt about that.’
Truss is chiefly known in Russia for a visit she made to Moscow in February, when she and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a rancorous meeting, and she has regularly been the target of vicious sexist remarks on Kremlin TV.
During his remarks, Putin slouched in his chair as his legs constantly moved and he raised and wiggled his feet.
The leader has been at the centre of multiple health rumours in recent months and has regularly appeared twitching and unsteady while in public.
Multiple times in the past week, Putin has made similar gestures during his public appearance, fuelling the rumours about his ill health.
Questions about Putin’s wellbeing have been circulating for some time with some suggesting he has cancer or Parkinson’s and he has regularly disappeared for days at a time amid claims he is undergoing surgery.
But the rumours have grown stronger since he launched his barbaric invasion of Ukraine, with the leader often appearing to be not in full control of his limbs.
In recent months, he has been seen hobbling off a plane in Iran with a limp arm and twisting his foot in a meeting with Belarus dictator Lukashenko in May.
On Friday, he was seen squirming in his chair and looked ill at ease as he gripped an armrest with one hand before gesticulating with a tightly clenched fist, while the other hand clutched firm to the microphone.
On Monday, he tapped his feet on the floor and gripped his armrest while giving a bizarre speech to a group of young Russians.
There were claims he ‘complained to doctors about fatigue and shortness of breath’ on the trip to Russia’s far east.
And yesterday, Putin appeared to send himself and some of his officials to sleep during a state council meeting.
In other remarks today, Putin did not appear lucid as he rambled on about the war in Ukraine.
He said: ‘I think, I am certain that we haven’t lost anything – and will not lose anything.
‘On our achievements the main one is strengthening of our sovereignty which is the inevitable result of what’s happening now.
‘Of course, a certain polarisation is happening, too, but I believe both in the world and inside the country it would only be beneficial.
‘Because all things unnecessary, harmful, everything that prevents us from moving forward will be declined.
‘We would pick up the pace of development. Modern development can only be based on sovereignty. All our steps are aimed at strengthening our sovereignty.
‘And the most important, and I want to stress it one more time – we have not started from the military activities point of view. We are just trying to finish.’
He also tried to stoke up fury between Europe and Africa by claiming most of the grain leaving Ukraine ports after a blockade is reaching the EU rather than developing nations.
The comments would have been intended to shore up support from Africa by painting the West as ‘colonialists’.
Putin said: ‘Almost all the grain exported from Ukraine is sent not to the poorest developing countries, but to EU countries.’
APRIL 21: Putin is seen gripping his desk with his right hand while meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in the early stages of the war. The footage from the meeting raised questions about Putin’s health
JULY 26: Putin, left, listens to Yuri Borisov, the CEO of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, while he grips his desk with his right hand
AUGUST 25: Vladimir Putin is seen gripping the same desk with his right hand during a meeting with Head of the Federal Taxation Service Daniil Yegorov
JULY 19: Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen hobbling from his presidential plane during the welcoming ceremony in Tehran
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, was forced to halt almost all deliveries after Russia started a military operation in late February.
Exports of grain across Black Sea ports resumed after Kyiv and Moscow in July inked a deal with the United Nations and Turkey acting as guarantors.
‘We did everything to ensure that Ukrainian grain was exported… we did it together with Turkey,’ Putin said at the forum.
Putin said European countries ‘acted as colonialists in recent decades and centuries’ and ‘they continue to act so today’.
He said they ‘once again simply deceived developing countries’.
‘With this approach, the scale of food problems in the world will only grow,’ Putin said, adding that it could lead to ‘an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe’.
Putin also said today that Ukraine was threatening Europe’s nuclear security by shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and said Russia had no military equipment at the facility.
Putin said he trusted a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which visited the power station last week, but criticised the IAEA for not saying that Ukraine was to blame for shelling on the site.
Kyiv and Moscow both blame each other for military attacks on the site which has triggered fears of a Chernobyl-style nuclear disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power station.
Ukrainian firefighters work to put out a fire at a destroyed residential building after a Russian military strike in Slovyansk
A local resident walks by a street market destroyed by military strikes, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Saltivka
Ukrainian rescuers work on the site after airstrikes destroyed a residential building in Kharkiv
Putin told the annual economic forum in the far-eastern port city that the main goal behind sending troops into Ukraine was protecting civilians in the east of that country after eight years of fighting.
‘It wasn’t us who started the military action, we are trying to put an end to it,’ Putin said, reaffirming his argument that he sent troops into Ukraine to protect Moscow-backed separatist regions in Ukraine, which have fought Ukrainian forces in the conflict that erupted in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
‘All our action has been aimed at helping people living in the Donbas, it’s our duty and we will fulfill it until the end,’ he said.
He scoffed at Western attempts to cap prices for Russian oil and gas, calling the idea ‘stupid’ and saying that Russia will have enough customers in Asia.
‘The demand is so high on global markets that we won’t have any problem selling it,’ he said.
‘An attempt to limit prices by administrative means is just ravings, it’s sheer nonsense,’ Putin added. ‘It will only lead to a hike in prices.’
He rejected the EU’s argument that Russia was using energy as a weapon by suspending gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Germany.
Putin reaffirmed the Russian argument that Western sanctions have hampered maintenance of the last turbine that remains in operation, forcing its shutdown.
He repeated that Moscow stands ready to ‘press the button’ and start pumping gas ‘as early as tomorrow’ through the Nord Stream 2, which has been put on hold by the German authorities.