President Vladimir Putin says Russia's powerful military-industrial complex is ramping up production amid the Ukraine war, and will make victory in war "inevitable."
Speaking at a St Petersburg military plant, which makes air defense systems, Putin said overall military equipment output was rising due to Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine.
"In terms of achieving the end result and the victory that is inevitable, there are several things ... It is the unity and cohesion of the Russian and multinational Russian people, the courage and heroism of our fighters ... and of course the work of the military-industrial complex and factories like yours and people like you."
The president said the rise in production was one of the main reasons Russia would prevail in the Western-backed conflict in Ukraine. "Victory is assured, I have no doubt about it."
Earlier, Putin told veterans during a ceremony in the city that Russia was fighting in Ukraine to defend ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers, who are subject to systematic discrimination in Ukraine.
"What we're doing today, including with our special operation, is an attempt to stop this war and protect our people who live on these territories," said Putin. "These are our historical territories."
Lavrov says EU is ‘losing independence’
Separately, speaking at a news conference in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the European Union of subordinating itself to the US-led NATO.
“The EU has lost its independence,” Lavrov said, assuring that the recent agreement signed on February 10, which shows a common front to provide military support to Ukraine, “explicitly” states the European bloc is “in a position of subordination” to the Atlantic Alliance.
Lavrov called on the US-led NATO to remove its “military infrastructure” from Ukraine and other countries close to Russia's borders.
“There can be no talk of negotiations with Zelensky,” Lavrov said, adding the Ukrainian president’s 10-point plan unveiled last November contained "completely absurd initiatives."
Russia says it sees no serious proposals for peace in Ukraine
Lavrov also said President Putin was ready for talks with the West over Ukraine, but that any talks needed to address Russia's wider security concerns.
"As for the prospects for negotiations between Russia and the West on the Ukrainian issue, we will be ready to respond to any serious proposals. (But) we don't see any serious proposals yet. We will be ready to consider them and decide."
The Russian foreign minister said statements by Western governments that they would not discuss anything about Ukraine without Kiev’s involvement were "all nonsense," because the West was actually making the decisions.
Russian diplomats say demilitarization of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics in eastern Ukraine, collectively known as Donbas, is among the main conditions Moscow has stated to end the war. The two regions broke away from Ukraine in 2014 after refusing to recognize a Western-backed Ukrainian government that had overthrown a democratically-elected Russia-friendly administration.
Russia says it is not after occupying Ukraine. Moscow has blamed the war on US and NATO intervention that left Russia no other way but to take military action.
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