LIVE: Vladimir Putin Speaks

Putin Xi JinpingREUTERS/Aly SongRussia’s President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping shake hands in Shanghai May 21, 2014.

Vladimir Putin is appearing on CNBC shortly. We’ll have live updates here.

The Russian President just told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that the turmoil in Ukraine — where Russian-backed separatists commandeering about 15% of the country and attacking troops — amounts to “full-scale civil war.”

Kiev’s fledgling government is attempting to hold a presidential election on Sunday, and Russia has questioned the legitimacy of the vote while there’s heavy fighting in eastern regions of the country.

Putin said that EU and U.S. sanctions on Russia will have a “boomerang effect” on the West.

“Sanctions will backlash. I do understand those foreign businessmen concerned with the implications of the sanctions.”

The Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine include annexing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea under the pretext of protecting Russian speakers and abetting sham independence referendums in two regions in the country’s east.

Putin said that Gazprom’s natural gas supply megadeal with China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) will enable Russia to become a swing gas producer between Europe and Asia.

The 30-year gas supply contract, estimated to be worth more than $US400 billion, will involve building a massive pipeline that will send natural gas from Russia to China for 30 years.

Prominent people across the globe have compared actions by the former KGB colonel — who has also been fueling rising nationalism at home — to Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.

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