In Speech at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin Calls U.S. a Fading Power and Says Russia Will Flourish Without the West

A large screen showing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday. (Credit…Anatoly Maltsev/EPA, via Shutterstock)

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, seeking to rally anti-American sentiment in Europe and across the world, lashed out anew at the United States on Friday, calling it a fading power that treats its allies as colonies, and said the West was falsely blaming its economic woes on the war in Ukraine.

“We all hear about so-called Putin inflation in the West,” Mr. Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, an annual business conference once known as “Russia’s Davos,” seeming to refer to President Biden’s efforts to blame Russian aggression for what he calls a “Putin price hike” that is hurting American consumers.

“When I see this, I always think: Who’s this meant for, this stupidity?” Mr. Putin said. “For someone who doesn’t know how to read or write.”

Mr. Putin spoke as the European Commission on Friday formally recommended that Ukraine be granted candidate status to become a member of the European Union, the first step in a long and arduous road that may have no immediate impact on the war, but could give the country a symbolic morale boost.

The commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, also recommended candidate status for Moldova — which applied for membership soon after Ukraine, spurred by concerns about Russia’s threats in the region — but not for neighboring Georgia, which was deemed not ready for E.U. candidacy.

“We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, who opened Friday’s meeting of E.U. commissioners in Brussels wearing a blue shirt and a yellow blazer, Ukraine’s national colors. “We want them to live with us the European dream.”

Ukraine’s accession into the bloc could take years. The European Commission has made Ukraine’s candidate status conditional on seven main overhauls in the country’s judicial system and government. Even while fighting the Russian army, Ukraine will have to guarantee an independent judiciary, weed out high-level corruption, adopt laws on the media, limit the influence of oligarchs, and improve legislation on money laundering and protecting minorities, the commission said.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Anton Troianovski, Andrew E. Kramer and Michael Levenson