Russia has been cut off from the rest of the world and now that their invasion of Ukraine appears to be stalled, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a strong message for Russian “traitors,” or people who have been critical of the war.

“The West will try to rely on the so-called fifth column, on national traitors, on those who earn money here with us but live there. And I mean ‘live there’ not even in the geographical sense of the word, but according to their thoughts, their slavish consciousness,” Putin said on Wednesday according to an English translation of his speech.

“The Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like an insect in their mouth onto the pavement,” he added.

Putin largely lashed out at Russian oligarchs, warning that they had become too Westernized, but that they would never be allowed into the Western world who he said views Russians as “expendable raw material” to be exploited.” He went on to say that a “cleansing” of society would strengthen the country as they dealt with a new reality of being isolated from the West.


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On Thursday, Putin press secretary Dmitry Peskov attempted to clarify Putin’s statements.

“In such difficult times … many people show their true colors,” he said referring to the number of Russians who fled the country. “Very many people are showing themselves, as we say in Russian, to be traitors.”

Though the UK’s Defense Ministry reported this week that Russia’s invasion had “largely stalled on all fronts,” experts warn that Russia’s military is much stronger than Ukraine’s and that if the attack appears to be stalled it is most likely part of their strategy. Experts also allow that Ukraine, with help from the West, has put up more of a challenge than Putin was expecting.

Putin’s comments came after reports that Russia and Ukraine were progressing in peace talks.

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