Putin Accuses West of Provoking Ukraine Crisis


MOSCOWJames Marson and Andrey Ostroukh report: Striking a defiant tone, President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused the West of provoking a crisis in Ukraine and using sanctions to try to constrain Russia.

In his annual state of the union address, Mr. Putin defended Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in March, saying Russia would never give up the “sacred” peninsula. He accused the U.S. and Europe of cynically using the Ukraine crisis as an excuse to pursue a long-held strategy aimed at weakening Russia.

“The policy of containment was not invented yesterday. It has been carried out against our country for many years,” he said. “Whenever someone thinks that Russia has become too strong or independent, these tools are quickly put into use.”

Mr. Putin’s one-hour speech in the Kremlin’s ornate St. George’s Hall underscored his hard-line response to Western sanctions that, along with low oil prices, have pushed Russia’s economy toward recession.

As Mr. Putin lambasted the West, the ruble dropped 2% against the dollar.

Mr. Putin took a softer line on domestic policy, moving to allay fears of a tightening of the screws on opponents and businesses, and calling for spending cuts and economic liberalization to support growth.

At the same time, he blamed speculators for causing the ruble to plunge some 40% against the U.S. dollar this year, and offered an amnesty for repatriated capital.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that Russia must end its support for violence in eastern Ukraine and cease occupying Crimea if it wants to end its increasing international isolation. “It isn’t our design or desire that we see a Russia isolated through its own actions,” Mr. Kerry said at an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe meeting in Basel, Switzerland.

The meeting came amid new efforts to salvage a Sept. 5 cease-fire between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in the country that was in part brokered by the OSCE, which includes Russia and Ukraine as well as the U.S. Sporadic violence has continued at several hot spots, with the U.N. last month reporting nearly 1,000 fatalities in the region since then…. (read more)


—John Letzing in Basel, Switzerland, contributed to this article.

Write to James Marson at james.marson@wsj.com and Andrey Ostroukh at andrey.ostroukh@wsj.com


One Comment on “Putin Accuses West of Provoking Ukraine Crisis”

  1. […] The Butcher MOSCOW—James Marson and Andrey Ostroukh report: Striking a defiant tone, President Vladimir Putin […]

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