I Could Never Have Foreseen 2022’s ‘Unexpected’ Crises That I Created

Russia’s Vladimir Putin appears to be playing dumb to avoid taking the blame for mounting fallout over his war against Ukraine.

At a meeting with officials on economic issues Tuesday, the Russian leader stated the obvious and admitted that 2022 had been a “difficult” year for the country. But in the same breath he suggested the country’s woes had somehow been impossible to foresee.

“2022 was a very challenging year for us and we managed to get through some of the risks that arose largely unexpectedly,” he said, according to RIA Novosti. He went on to say the Russian government “didn’t know and didn’t understand” logistical, financial, and budgetary risks in 2022, but that they now “see 2023 better in terms of these risks.”

Weeks before his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Putin was repeatedly warned by those within his inner circle that the move would be suicide for the Russian economy, according to the Financial Times.

Fast forward one year—and tens of thousands of dead Ukrainians (and Russians) later—and more than 40 percent of foreign companies operating in Russia have left or vowed to do so. Russia’s GDP has also fallen by 2.5 percent, and hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens have fled the country.

That didn’t stop Putin from giving himself and his government a pat on the back, however. “We worked very honorably,” he said Tuesday.

Lawmakers are now brainstorming ways to lure the self-exiled Russians back—and to confiscate the property of any Russians who took a parting shot at the Kremlin over the war as they left.

“Our task is to do as much as we can to make sure that those who left return as soon as possible, with the exception of those who allowed themselves to make public attacks against our country and the armed forces. This is important for the country’s economy, for their families and loved ones,” lawmaker Andrei Turchak told Russian media on Tuesday.

Earlier, Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of Russia’s State Duma, called for the creation of a mechanism that would allow the government to seize property in the country from any Russians who left and continue to “publicly pour dirt on Russia.”

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