Vladimir Putin says Russia not to blame for Ukraine conflict

Vladimir Putin believes Russia is not to blame for the war in Ukraine, adding both countries are “sharing a tragedy”.

During a televised address with senior military officials, the Russian president said he continued to see Ukraine as a “brotherly nation”.

He claimed the conflict was “the result of the policy of third countries” and not down to Russian policy.

The theory, which implies Western expansion is the cause, has been repeatedly dismissed outside Russia.

President Putin claimed the West had “brainwashed” post-Soviet republics, starting with Ukraine.

He said: “For years, we tried to build good-neighbourly relations with Ukraine, offering loans and cheap energy, but it did not work.

“There’s nothing to accuse us of. We’ve always seen Ukrainians as a brotherly people and I still think so.

“What’s happening now is a tragedy, but it’s not our fault.”

During the address military officials vowed to continue the so-called “special military operation” into 2023.

President Putin added there was no limit to the amount of money Russia was willing to spend.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu proposed raising the age range for mandatory Russian military service.

Under the current law, Russians aged 18-27 can be called up for mandatory military service – Mr Shoigu is now proposing this covers citizens aged 21-30.

Mr Shoigu also announced plans to establish bases in two port cities – Berdyansk and Mariupol – seized during the Russian offensive.

The address came as Ukrainian leader Volodmyr Zelensky travelled to the US Capitol in Washington.

It is his first visit outside of Ukraine since Russia invaded 10 months ago

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