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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that his country’s invasion of Ukraine was the “right decision” during his first known trip outside of Moscow since the bloody assault began on Feb. 24.
Putin made the comment while visiting the Vostochny space base in far eastern Russia on the 61st anniversary of the Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human to enter space.
“On the one hand, we are helping and saving people, and on the other, we are simply taking measures to ensure the security of Russia itself,” Putin said Tuesday, repeating a claim that Russia has used to justify the invasion. “It’s clear that we didn’t have a choice. It was the right decision.”
Putin also said campaign’s “goals are absolutely clear and noble,” according to Reuters – though Russia’s military has been accused of repeatedly killing civilians and committing war crimes.
The Russian leader suggested that his country will remain strong despite increasing sanctions from Western nations.
“The sanctions were total, the isolation was complete but the Soviet Union was still first in space,” Putin reportedly said.
“We don’t intend to be isolated,” Putin added. “It is impossible to severely isolate anyone in the modern world – especially such a vast country as Russia.”
Making the trip with Putin was Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. The visit was Putin’s first known trip outside of Moscow since the war started, The Associated Press reports.
“Why on earth are we getting so worried about these sanctions?” Lukashenko said Tuesday, according to Reuters.