Russian President Vladimir Putin, flanked by images of an ancient Orthodox icon, issued a stern warning to the West during a plenary session of the World Russian People’s Council.
The carefully chosen imagery highlighted the significance of sacred symbols in shaping Russia’s national identity
Putin’s warning carried a clear message ahead of the March 2024 elections, cautioning that any foreign meddling in Russian affairs would be viewed as an act of aggression.
The 71-year-old leader warned against external interference, especially provocations aimed at stoking inter-ethnic or inter-religious conflicts, deeming such acts as aggression against Russia.
Emphasizing national unity, Putin stated: “Any attempt to sow inter-ethnic and inter-religious discord, to split our society is a betrayal, a crime against the whole of Russia. We will not allow anyone to divide Russia.”
The warning comes amid heightened tensions following Russia‘s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, marking the most significant confrontation with the West since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
Since the invasion, Putin has strategically reframed the narrative of the conflict, framing it as an existential battle between Russia‘s sacred civilization and what he perceives as the declining West, both culturally and economically.
The West has depicted Putin as a dictator orchestrating an imperial land grab, weakening Russia in the process.
The Russian president countered these claims, asserting that Western attempts to isolate Russia through unprecedented sanctions were rooted in historical Western racism against Russians.
Despite the accusations, the West maintains its stance of supporting Ukraine against Russian forces on the battlefields, aiming to eject Russian soldiers and hold Putin accountable for the ongoing conflict.
Putin, expressing gratitude, acknowledged Russian businessmen for successfully navigating the challenges posed by Western sanctions.
He claimed that the collaborative efforts of the state and business thwarted what he described as the West’s “sanctions blitzkrieg,” portraying it as an unsuccessful attempt at economic aggression.
As Russia gears up for the upcoming presidential election campaign set to begin next month, all indications suggest that Putin will run again. If successful, this would secure at least another six years for the former KGB spy, who has been in power since 2000.
Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia‘s Orthodox Church and a key figure in the World Russian People’s Council, expressed his prayers for Putin to continue his work for the “benefit” of Russia and its people.