As the war in Ukraine entered its second year, Russia’s ambassador to the United States has argued that Washington’s latest rounds of military and economic support would not suffice to defeat Moscow’s effort to beat Kyiv in the ongoing conflict.
Reached for comment on the latest round of sanctions announced by President Joe Biden on the anniversary of the war, Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov called the move “mindless” and told Newsweek “they once again want us to ‘suffer.'”
“Does anyone really believe that such measures will make our country give up its independent course, divert from the chosen path towards a multipolar world based on the principle of indivisible security, international law and the UN Charter?” Antonov asked rhetorically.
The Russian envoy also took aim at recent increases in supplies of arms from the U.S. and other Western countries to Ukraine.
“They fail to understand that new supplies of weapons, like all the previous ones, only prolong the conflict, leading to continued bloodshed and in no way helping bring peace any closer,” Antonov said. “Meanwhile, the Russian army keeps making strong progress in completing the tasks set before it to defend the Fatherland. Our military is supported by the entire country.”
While both sides have routinely given conflicting accounts of their progress throughout the conflict, reports suggest Russia, bolstered by the Wagner private military group, has made progress on the crucial front of Bakhmut in the Donbas region.
Washington and its Western allies have maintained steadfast backing for Kyiv, however, announcing the supply of various tanks and armored vehicles for Ukrainian forces in recent weeks. Biden himself made his first visit to Ukraine earlier this week, and on Friday met virtually with other leaders of the G7, which also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce further measures against Russia.
“One year ago, the G7 met following [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s assault against Ukraine,” Biden tweeted. “Now, not only does Ukraine stand, but the global coalition in support of Ukraine is stronger than ever, with the G7 as its anchor.”
Zelensky, for his part, thanked the U.S. and its people for a new round of $2 billion in defensive aid and $9.9 billion in financial help. He called it a “a powerful signal to the aggressor” on the anniversary of the conflict, affirming that the country was on its way to victory.
But Antonov rejected the Western narrative of isolating Moscow.
“Washington and its allies are not succeeding in their attempts to ‘strangle’ Russia with sanctions,” Antonov said. “We have learned to live under economic and political pressure. The Russian economy is being readjusted, and our capabilities in import substitution are increasing.”
“Russia’s agriculture is demonstrating impressive and enviable results as compared to many countries,” he added. “Even the Bretton Woods institutions are predicting growth for our country already this year.”
In its annual report released in January, the International Monetary Fund reported a negative 2.2 percent growth for Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022 but predicted a .3 percent growth for 2023 and a 2.1 percent growth in 2024, more than twice the figure of the projected 1 percent growth for the U.S. that same year.
Antonov argued that the economic forecast of nations that have instituted sanctions against Moscow would only worsen, and that mostly everyday citizens would be harmed in Russia, as opposed to influencing government policy.
“At the same time, in most of the countries that have instigated the restrictions, the crisis is raging; they face a growing shortage of goods and a galloping inflation,” Antonov said. “Previous experience with sanctions has shown that these primarily harm the global market and worsen the situation for ordinary citizens in the countries that initiate or support reckless sanctions.”
“The U.S. claims about Russia being ‘isolated’ are completely false,” he added. “We are cooperating with the international community even more actively than before. The only difference is that we are now placing the emphasis on states that are ready to work on a mutually beneficial and equal basis, rather than on former partners who have lost our trust.”
Pointing to a reception held in the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the anniversary of the conflict, Antonov said a number of nations from Latin America, the Middle East and other parts of Asia remained connected to Russia in line with the national February 23 “Defender of the Fatherland Day.”
“In fact, Washington is deliberately destroying the bilateral dialogue and international relations,” Antonov said. “And no one, including in the U.S. administration, looks willing to search for a way out of this dive.”
This is a developing story and more information will be added as it becomes available.