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The Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that what is at stake in Ukraine is the very existence of Russia as a state.

Speaking to workers at an aircraft factory in Buryatia, the Russian president repeated his familiar argument that the West was determined to break up Russia.

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“Therefore, for us this is not a geopolitical task, but a task of survival of the Russian state, creating conditions for the future development of the country and our children”, he said characteristically.

In response to a related question about Russian economy commented that it has proved stronger than expected in the wake of Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine:

“We have increased our economic dominance many times over. After all, what was our enemy counting on? That we will collapse in 2-3 weeks or in a month,” he said, adding that the enemy expected factories to stop, the financial system to collapse, unemployment to rise, protesters to take to the streets and Russia to “be shaken from the inside and it would collapse.”

“That didn’t happen,” Putin emphasized. “It turned out, for many of us, and even more so for Western countries, that the foundations of Russia’s stability are much stronger than anyone thought,” he stressed.

Putin has repeatedly accused the West of using Ukraine as a tool to wage war against Russia and inflict a “strategic defeat” on it. The United States and its allies say they are helping Ukraine defend itself against an imperialist-style invasion that has destroyed Ukrainian cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced millions from their homes.