Putin Says U.S. Using Ukrainians as 'Cannon Fodder', Trying to Prolong War

Vladimir Putin has reiterated his criticism of the U.S. in a speech in which he accused Washington of trying to "prolong" the conflict in Ukraine and condemned the recent visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

At the Moscow International Security Conference, the Russian leader took aim at "western globalist elites" which he said were "provoking chaos, inciting old and new conflicts," as well as trying "to preserve the hegemony and power that is slipping out of their hands."

He said that the United States "and its vassals crudely interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states," as he accused them of organizing "provocations, coups, civil wars" while "threats, blackmail and pressure try to force independent states to submit to their will."

"The so-called collective west is purposely destroying the European security system," Putin said on Tuesday, before returning to his repeated criticism of NATO for "building up its military infrastructure."

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the International Military Technical Forum 'Army 2022', on August 15, 2022, in Kubinka, outside Moscow, Russia. The next day, he told a Moscow security forum that the U.S. is trying to "prolong" the conflict in Ukraine. Getty Images

He said that for the West to "maintain their hegemony" they made the people of Ukraine "cannon fodder," ignored the spread of "Neo-Nazi ideology"—in reference to one of his justifications for his invasion—and "continue to pump the Kyiv regime with weapons."

"The situation in Ukraine shows that the U.S. is trying to prolong this conflict," Putin said, as he condemned Washington's policies in other parts of the world.

"As you know, recently the United States once again deliberately tried to add fuel to the fire and stir up the situation in the Asia-Pacific region," he said, in reference to Pelosi's visit to Taiwan on August 2.

This trip caused anger in Beijing, which responded by ordering military drills around the self-governing island that it claims as part of China. Putin is a close ally of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose backing has helped him weather global criticism of his invasion of Ukraine.

Pelosi's trip, in Putin's view, was not just one by an "irresponsible politician" but a "carefully planned provocation" as well as part of a "conscious U.S. strategy to destabilize" that part of the world.

It was also a "a brazen demonstration of disrespect for the sovereignty of other countries and for its international obligations," Putin said in the speech whose video and transcript were available on the Kremlin website.

In response to Putin's comments, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said that Putin's accusations of U.S. interference in foreign countries "is beyond disingenuous."

"Putin invaded Ukraine," the spokesperson said. "This is a classic Russian shell game of shifting blame. All the steps we have taken since Putin launched his premeditated full-scale invasion have been to support the people brutalized by Moscow's war and increase pressure on the Kremlin to end its aggression immediately.

"Before Putin's forces invaded, we consistently spoke of the two paths Russia can choose—dialogue and diplomacy or escalation and massive consequences. We made genuine and sincere efforts to pursue the former, which we vastly preferred, but Putin chose war."

Putin's railing at the West in general and the U.S., in particular, come as the Russian Embassy in Washington accused Washington of increasing the threat of nuclear conflict.

In a post on Telegram that was reported by Russian news agencies, the mission criticized the U.S. withdrawal from agreements such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) nuclear disarmament deal and the U.S. arming of Ukraine.

It said that Washington's "steps to further engage in a hybrid confrontation with Russia in the context of the Ukrainian crisis" raise the possibility of "unpredictable escalation and a direct military clash of nuclear powers."

Update 08/16/22, 12:45 p.m. ET: This article was updated with a response from the U.S. State Department.