Speed Reads

'the phase of total war'

Putin spokesman accuses U.S. of leading a 'war' against Russia's economy

Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's chief spokesman and deputy chief of staff, is accusing the United States and other Western countries of "leading a war against us" when it comes to trade and the economy.

He made the remark during an interview Monday with PBS special correspondent Ryan Chilcote. Putin has said he wants European countries to pay for their gas from Russia in rubles, rather than dollars and euros, and Chilcote asked if they will turn off the supply if his demand isn't met. "Well, it depends," Peskov responded. "No payment, no gas." Russia, he said, has to "adapt ourselves to meet conditions. And, unfortunately, those conditions, they are quite unfriendly. And they are enemy, enemy-like for us."

His country has now "entered the phase, the phase of total war," he continued. "And we in Russia, we will feel ourselves amongst war, because Western European countries, United States, Canada, Australia, they actually ... they are leading war against us in trade, in economy, in seizing our properties, in seizing our funds, in blocking our financial relations. And we have to adapt ourselves to new reality."

Russia has been saying for decades that it does not want NATO to move eastwards, Peskov said, and the country is afraid "of NATO getting closer to our borders with its military infrastructure. Please take care of that. Don't push us into the corner. No."

Peskov was asked about Russia deploying nuclear weapons, and after being pressed several times by Chilcote, he finally said, "No one is thinking about using, about — even about the idea of using a nuclear weapon." He also called it "alarming" that President Biden said Putin can't remain in power, declaring it "a personal insult." Biden said he is not advocating for regime change, but Peskov still found the statement "completely unacceptable," saying it is the "people of Russia who are deciding during the election" who will be president. Several Western countries and analysts say that under Putin, Russian elections are not free or fair.