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Putin says Russia is trying to end ‘the war unleashed by the West’ in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has again blamed the West for the war in Ukraine in a speech delivered by video link to the Brics summit in South Africa.

“Our actions in Ukraine are dictated by only one thing – to end the war that was unleashed by the West and its satellites against the people who live in the Donbas,” he said, referring to the region of eastern Ukraine occupied by Russian proxies since 2014.

“I want to note that it was the [West’s] desire to maintain their hegemony in the world… that led to the severe crisis in Ukraine.”

The Russian leader did not appear in person at the summit following an arrest warrant against him issued by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

South African authorities would have been obliged to implement the warrant as the country is a member of the court.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had hedged over how to handle the case, with Pretoria having historically close ties to Moscow. But Russia sent Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov instead.

Mr Putin has sought to cultivate what he called a “multipolar world order” in his speech to challenge US international leadership.

Russia is part of the Brics bloc along with Brazil, India, China, and the host nation, none of which have condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Ramaphosa said in response that bloc members would continue to support efforts to bring the conflict to an end.

The Russian leader has consistently described the invasion as a “special operation” and said it was a result of Nato expansion. He has also claimed it is a mission to “denazify” Ukraine, and to rid it of “Satanists”.

His address came just hours after three people were killed by drone strikes in Russia’s Belgorod region, near the Ukrainian border, and another drone hit central Moscow.

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