The Daily Telegraph

Russia has lost nothing from the war, claims Putin as he prepares to meet Xi

- By Nataliya Vasilyeva RUSSIA CORRESPOND­ENT in Istanbul

‘However hard others try to isolate Russia, it is impossible as we have always insisted – all you have to do is look at the map’

‘Many European countries used to act as colonisers in the past centuries and decades, and they still act like this today’

VLADIMIR PUTIN will meet the Chinese president for the first time since the invasion as he threatened to scrap the Ukrainian grain deal.

Battered by unpreceden­ted economic sanctions, the Russian president yesterday warned the West that it would fail to isolate Russia and that his country “had not lost anything” from waging war with its neighbour.

In an apparent pivot to Asia, the Russian ambassador to China announced that Mr Putin is expected to travel to Uzbekistan next week to meet president Xi Jinping. The two leaders last met at the Beijing Winter Olympics a few weeks before Russian troops entered Ukraine on Feb 24.

Mr Xi, who has not left China since the pandemic started, will meet Mr Putin on the fringes of a regional trade conference in Samarkand, once an important part of the ancient Silk Road trade route connecting China to Europe.

Mr Xi has been careful not to explicitly back the war, and Mr Putin’s visit shows Moscow’s growing anxiety to seek allies amid internatio­nal isolation.

Hundreds of Western multinatio­nal companies, from fashion retailers to global shipping companies, have left the Russian market since the invasion, while banks are unable to operate in the EU or the United States.

Addressing an annual economic forum in Vladivosto­k, Mr Putin gave a speech targeted at Asian investors.

“However hard others try to isolate Russia, it is impossible as we have always insisted,” he said. “All you have to do is look at the map.”

The 69-year-old leader mentioned the country’s ambitious transport projects aimed at expanding Russian exports to developing countries including India, Iran and the Middle East.

Buoyed by the presence of a highrankin­g Chinese official in the room and video messages from the leaders of India and Vietnam, Mr Putin also warned that Russia could withdraw its security guarantees for ships carrying Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea.

“We were simply duped,” he said, suggesting that the majority of ships ended up in the EU, not in the world’s poorest countries that would have faced hunger without supplies from Ukraine.

“Many European countries used to act as colonisers in the past centuries and decades – they still act like this today,” he added.

He said he would raise his concerns with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, who helped broker the four-month deal in associatio­n with the UN. “Maybe we should think about limiting grain and agricultur­al exports on this route [to Europe],” he added.

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s envoy to the UN, said on Tuesday he would like to see the deal extended but said restrictio­ns on Russian agricultur­al exports had not been fully lifted as promised. Mr Putin sounded increasing­ly annoyed when asked about the fallout from the invasion, which has led to an EU embargo on Russian crude oil. He said: “We haven’t lost anything and we will not lose anything. In terms of gains I can mention the strengthen­ing of our sovereignt­y.”

Mr Putin has threatened to completely cut energy supplies to the West if it tries to cap wholesale gas prices from Russia. He promised to comply with contractua­l obligation­s to European customers but said it was up to Russia to decide if it wanted to sell extra amounts to the West.

He also hinted at possible energy shortages in Europe in the coming months, citing a line from a Russian folk tale: “The wolf ’s tail will freeze.”

In the story, a cunning fox freezes a wolf ’s tail inside an ice hole, allowing angry villagers to come and beat the wolf for its misdeeds. The wolf escapes, but only by pulling off its own tail.

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