Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky proclaimed Russia is being reduced to an international “beggar,” saying the Kremlin’s military, diplomatic and economic influence has crumbled during its invasion of his country.
Zelensky made the remarks in a national address Monday to commemorate the eight-month mark of Russia’s invasion. During his speech, Zelensky said Ukrainian forces were on their way to retaking all territory occupied by Russia. But Zelensky warned that victory will not come easily and Ukraine will still need to make it through the winter, which he said will be “the most difficult in our history.”
“Ukraine is breaking the so-called ‘second army of the world’ – and from now on, Russia will only be a beggar,” Zelensky said in his speech.
Zelensky said Russia is “begging for something in Iran,” a likely reference to how the Russian military has reportedly turned to Iran for Shahed-136 drones to launch attacks on Ukraine’s power plants and other civilian infrastructure as the weather begins turning cold. Zelensky and others have claimed Russia is using the drones, which cost about $30,000 apiece, to prevent depleting its missile stock.
“There was gas influence – not anymore,” Zelensky said in the speech. There was military influence – it is evaporating. There was political weight – now there is an increasing isolation. There were ideological ambitions – now there’s only disgust.”
The Kremlin’s diplomatic isolation was on display this month when just four countries voted with Moscow against a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of four occupied regions in Ukraine.
Russia was expelled in 2014 from the then-Group of 8 alliance for illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine.
Now called the Group of 7, the alliance of the world’s advanced economies, which includes the U.S. and several European countries, is finalizing a plan to cap the price of Russian crude oil exports. The plan is intended to reduce Moscow’s ability to profit off energy exports while helping ease the European Union‘s shift from Russian fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, Russian officials made comments that seemed to push back against Zelensky’s claims.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, said during a television appearance that the Kremlin remains open to negotiations, including with the U.S., according to the state-run TASS news agency.
“We have been answering all phone calls, and we have not blocked any ties or contacts with our partners—either with those who are still our partners or with those who we can no longer call that or with those who never was one,” she said. “We are ready to negotiate and so on.”
Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev on Monday pushed back against suggestions that Russia was depleting its weapons stockpile, saying in a Telegram post that the production of tanks, guns, high-precision missiles and drones is booming.
Newsweek has reached out to the Russian government for comment.