(CNN) – Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the end of the “age of a unipolar world” in a hostile speech criticizing Western countries at the International Economic Forum in St Petersburg on Friday.
“When they won the Cold War, the United States declared that they were God’s representatives on earth, people who had no responsibilities, only interests. They declared these interests sacred. Now they are one-way, making the world unstable.” Putin told the audience.
Putin’s speech at the annual conference in the western Russian city was seen as an opportunity to let the world know his ideas, some four months after his war with Ukraine.
As soon as the President of Russia took the stage, he did not waste time joking and went directly to attack the United States and its allies.
“They live in the past alone, under their own illusions … They believe that … they have won and everything else is a colony, a backyard. And the people who live there are second-class citizens,” adding that the Russian “special operation” – the phrase – which the Russian government uses to describe its war against Ukraine – has become “a lifeline for the West to blame Russia for all the problems”.
The veteran Russian leader also blamed the West for trying to harm the Russian economy, describing sanctions on Moscow as “crazy” and “reckless”.
The famous speech was delayed by more than 90 minutes due to a “massive” cyber attack.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in an impromptu phone call that the speech had been delayed due to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against conference systems.
“Unfortunately, today, due to massive DDoS attacks on the forum system, the approval and acceptance rule has been disrupted,” Peskov said.
Peskov told CNN in a text message that technical professionals working to repair the systems would “need 30-40 minutes” to restore the database.
Putin’s speech at the annual conference in the western Russian city is seen as an opportunity for the world to learn about the Russian leader’s thinking four months after his war against Ukraine.
The Russian president has long framed his decision to invade Ukraine as a response to Kiev’s growing diplomatic and security ties with the West. Last week, he hinted that his goal in Ukraine is to restore Russia as an imperial power.
Just before Putin’s speech on Friday, Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev told CNN that he believed Russia’s actions in Ukraine “prevented a major war, possibly World War III.”
“If we take into account the possibility of Ukraine becoming part of NATO,” said Kosachev, deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Council.
“Member states have their view on Crimea, they have their views on matters that do not include NATO and the USA included in the military conflict with Russia. Now, this military conflict is being avoided and this is the end of the story and that is the only good news.”
The European Commission announced on Friday that it is recommending Ukraine and neighboring Moldova as candidates for EU membership, with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying Ukrainians are “ready to die” for the European perspective. Peskov said the announcement required “Moscow’s close attention”.
“We all know about the escalation in Europe and the discussions about strengthening the defense component of the EU. So there are different shifts that we’re seeing,” he said early Friday during a routine daily call with reporters.