President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday reiterated his criticism of the United States as a declining power that treats its allies like colonies, while declaring herself as exceptional and “the Lord’s messenger on earth.”
“If they’re exceptional, that means everyone else is second-rate,” Mr Putin said of the United States in a speech the Kremlin had labeled “extremely important” at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum — an annual business conference ever. known as “Russia’s Davos.”
His comments were delayed more than an hour after the Kremlin called “large-scale” distributed denial-of-service cyber attacks on the conference’s computer systems. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov said the attacks had disabled the conference participants database, making it difficult to screen the guests who entered the plenary session where Mr Putin was due to speak.
Mr Putin also said the European Union had imposed sanctions on Russia on Washington’s orders, despite the damage to its own economy.
“The European Union has completely lost its political sovereignty,” Putin said, “and its bureaucratic elites are dancing to the tunes of a stranger while accepting everything they are told from above, while harming their own audiences and their own economy.”
He also claimed that Western politicians falsely blamed inflation in their country for the war in Ukraine to distract the public from what he described as the real reasons: excessive Western government spending and loose monetary policy.
“We all hear about so-called Putin inflation in the West,” Mr Putin said. “When I see this, I always think: who is this for, this stupidity? For someone who cannot read or write.”
Mr Putin warned that inflation threatened to cause “hunger in the poorest countries”, saying: “This will be completely on the conscience of the United States and the euro bureaucracy.”
He also urged that the Russian economy remain open to foreign investment and cooperation. “Russia, while our Western friends literally dream of this, will never go down the path of isolation and autarky,” Putin said.
Ukraine’s IT military, a “hacktavist” group behind many attacks on Russian websites, had previously targeted the economic forum. “The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum starts today, so let’s ‘visit’ it together online,” the group said on its Telegram channel.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan and Margarita Simonyan, the editor of the state television channel RT, were also expected to take the stage. Mr Peskov said Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi would address the conference via video.