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Putin seemingly uses speech to appeal to conservatives abroad

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday delivered remarks that appeared to be aimed at conservatives overseas, saying there are "two Wests," with one, "the cosmopolitan West," being "a tool of the liberal elites."

The "traditional" West has "mainly Christian values," and that aligns with Russia, Putin said during his speech at a foreign policy conference near Moscow. The elites have "strange values," he continued, and they are "aggressive" and "neocolonial."

Putin's comments come less than two weeks ahead of the U.S. midterm elections. Recently, several senior Republican lawmakers have said if the GOP wins control of the House, they will cut aid to Ukraine. On Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Axios he is "concerned" by these declarations and thinks they "are unfair," but he understands "people make political statements before elections and pursue different policies after the elections."

During his Thursday speech, Putin also said there is "no point, politically or militarily" to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, despite raising the possibility earlier this month. Russian political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya told The New York Times Putin's words can't be taken at face value. "This is a trick — it shouldn't make anyone relax," she said. "His goal is to show that escalation is the product of Western policies."