Vladimir Putin says “they started the war” and claims Russia used force “in order to stop it”.
In a speech describing his aims for the second year of his invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president said Ukraine was in talks with the West about weapons before Russia invaded its neighbour on 24 February last year.
He said: “I would like to repeat, they started the war and we used force in order to stop it.”
He added that Kyiv held talks with the West about weapons supplies before the “special military operation” began.
“I would like to emphasise when Russia tried to find a peaceful solution they were playing with the lives of people and they were playing a dirty game,” he adds.
His speech comes a day after US President Joe Biden made his first visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last year.
Mr Biden said the Russian president was “dead wrong” to think the West’s support for Ukraine would not last, as he promised $500m worth of military aid to Ukraine and additional sanctions against Russian elites.
While Russian forces have suffered three major battlefield reversals since the war began, it still controls around one-fifth of Ukraine.