Putin says giving Patriot missiles to Kyiv ‘is simply prolonging the conflict.’
A day after Ukraine’s president received a hero’s welcome in Washington and assurances of more American arms deliveries, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday restated his determination to keep fighting — even as he paid lip service to wanting to end the war quickly.
Mr. Putin, in a news conference at the Kremlin, sought to appear unimpressed by President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Washington visit, insisting — as he has before — that any further Western support for Ukraine will only delay Russia’s inevitable victory.
Mr. Putin played down the importance of the Patriot missile air-defense system that President Biden announced will soon be delivered to Ukraine, saying that Russia would find a means to defeat it.
“An antidote will always be found,” Mr. Putin said. “This is simply prolonging the conflict — that’s it.”
Sticking to the Kremlin’s propaganda script, Mr. Putin blamed the United States for bringing war back to Ukraine in 2014, by purportedly supporting the country’s pro-Western revolution and Ukrainian military action in the country’s east. (In fact, it was Russia that fueled and largely orchestrated a separatist conflict there.)
“Our goal is not to spin this flywheel of a military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war,” Mr. Putin said. “We are striving for this and will continue to.”
Mr. Putin said, as he and other Russian officials frequently do, that Russia was prepared for talks to negotiate an end to the conflict. But he gave no hint of being ready to step back from his effort to control a large swath of Ukraine, instead claiming that he was fighting to “unite and strengthen” the “Russian people.” The message: Since Russia will keep fighting no matter what, Ukraine and the West should agree to a peace on Russia’s terms.
“All armed conflicts end one way or another with some sort of negotiations on the diplomatic track,” Mr. Putin said. “Sooner or later, of course, any parties in a state of conflict sit down and come to an agreement. The faster this realization comes to those who oppose us, the better.”