Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 led to the most serious confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, prompting Putin to turn to China.

Putin has changed his narrative of the war since the invasion, portraying it as an existential battle between Russia's sacred civilization and the arrogant West, which says it is in a state of cultural, political and economic decline.

In his speech to the World People's Assembly of Russia, chaired by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, Putin said: "I want to emphasize: we consider any interference from abroad, provocations aimed at igniting ethnic or religious conflicts, as hostile acts against our country."

"I want to emphasize once again that any attempt to sow discord between ethnicities and religions to divide our society is treason and a crime against the whole of Russia. We will not allow anyone to divide Russia."

Putin says the West is now failing in Ukraine, and his attempt to defeat Russia has also failed.

The head of the Kremlin said Western attempts to isolate Russia by imposing the toughest sanctions on a major economy were evidence of what is believed to be historical Western racism against Russians.

The West, which denies it wants to tear Russia apart, has said it wants to help Ukraine defeat Russian forces on the battlefield, expel Russian soldiers and punish Putin for the war.

The presidential election campaign is due to begin next month and Putin is expected to run for election, a move that would guarantee him at least another six more years in power since 6 and before that from 2012 to 2000.

Patriarch Kirill said he would pray for Putin to continue his work for the "good" of Russia and its people.