By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has made clear he could impose a new naval blockade in the Black Sea, halting grain exports after he oversaw military drills with China and other nations.
At an economic conference in Vladivostok, Putin said he would talk with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about “limiting the destinations for grain exports.”
He claimed that only two of 87 ships leaving Ukraine with grain had gone to developing countries, allegations vehemently denied by Kyiv and the West.
His divisive statements came during a speech in which Putin also threatened to cut off all deliveries of gas, oil, and coal to Europe if they imposed a price cap on Russian energy imports.
Recalling a Russian fairytale, he said that Europeans could “freeze like the wolf’s tail” in response to Western sanctions imposed due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
With tensions rising, Putin defended a crackdown on independent journalists trying to critically cover his policies and what he calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine.
He spoke in support of the 22-year prison sentence handed down this week to former journalist Ivan Safronov for “treason” charges in a court case tried on secret evidence.
Asked about the hundreds of journalists forced to flee the country due to harsh legislation against criticizing the war, Putin indicated they were traitors.
“I assure you, they are happy they’re able to leave,” he said of the journalists. “They’ve always worked against our country, but now under the guise of some kinds of threats here, they happily moved away for the same salaries they earned here.”
Several of the journalists condemned the remarks. “Yep, being placed on the wanted list is what I’ve always dreamed of,” wrote Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist living abroad since the start of the war.
Putin spoke following his involvement in sweeping military drills by Russia’s military and forces from China to show off increasingly close defense ties.
The drills were conducted at seven firing ranges in Russia and engaged troops from several ex-Soviet nations, including India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, and Syria.
The Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise held September 1-7 in Russia’s Far East and the Sea of Japan involved more than 50,000 troops and 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships, the Russian defense ministry said.
Critics see the exercises as a warning to the West, which has been supporting Ukraine in its battle against invading Russian troops.
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