What Can Vladimir Putin’s Latest Speech Tell Us About Russia And The Ukraine War?

Vladimir Putin delivered a major speech to the Russian parliament on Tuesday, in an effort to rouse more support for the war in Ukraine.

During the one hour and 45 minute speech to the joint houses of the Russian parliament, he redeployed many of the lines of attack he has used in the past, including attacking the West.

The annual speech was originally meant to go ahead in December, but it was delayed as Russia had just faced a series of military setbacks.

Today, just three days before the official one-year anniversary since Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president sidelined these failures.

Throughout the whole speech, the main bit of new information was that he planned to suspend Russia’s participation in the New Start nuclear treaty in the US.

Here’s what you need to know.

How does Putin think the war is going?

Putin admitted that he was giving the speech “during a complicated and frontier time for our country during a time of drastic changes in our world”.

But, he is still calling his invasion of Ukraine a “special operation” and alleging that there is a Nazi threat within the “Kyiv regime” making nuclear threats.

He claimed Ukrainian civilians had been waiting for Russia to help, and announced that Moscow had no plans to pull out of the conflict.

Russian invasion of Ukraine

PA Graphics via PA Graphics/Press Association Images

What does he think of the West?

Putin revived an old line claiming that the West had provoked the current conflict by making Ukraine anti-Russian.

The Russian president claimed that the West had somehow “let the genie out of the bottle” through the war and was responsible for the current battle.

The West’s commitment to peace is a “fraud” and “cruel lie”, he said – and now it has trillions of dollars at stake through the war, after sending Ukraine investment and weaponry to help it fight off the Russian armed forces.

The Russian president continued: “We were doing everything possible to solve this problem peacefully, negotiating a peaceful way out of this difficult conflict, but behind our backs a very different scenario was being prepared.

“They [the West] were just playing for time, closing their eyes to political assassinations, mistreatment of believers.”

Both Ukraine and the West have denied all of these claims, and say the Nato expansion is not a justification for Putin’s war.

The Russian president also said: “They intend to transform a local conflict into a phase of global confrontation. This is exactly how we understand it all and we will react accordingly, because in this case we are talking about the existence of our country.”

He has always maintained that if Ukraine’s allies got too close to the war effort, he would not hesitate to attack.

Putin dived into a history lesson at some points, claiming the West enabled Nazism to emerge in the 1930s, while also attacking same-sex marriage and the Church of England’s plan to consider a gender-neutral God.

A move towards Asia?

Putin said Russia was going to turn away from the “wolfish” habits of the West and towards Asia instead.

China’s top diplomat Wang Yi will be in Moscow on Tuesday and may meet with Putin – prompting concerns that the country might be thinking about offering weapons to Russia.

The US has expressed worries that Beijing could supply Moscow with weapons, thus escalating the war and putting Ukraine and Nato allies on one side, with China and Russia on the other.

China has notably never condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

But, in response to US worries, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “We do not accept the United States’ finger-pointing on China-Russia relations, let alone coercion and pressure.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual state of the nation address at the Gostiny Dvor conference centre in central Moscow on February 21, 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual state of the nation address at the Gostiny Dvor conference centre in central Moscow on February 21, 2023


What did he say about Russia?

In an effort to shore up domestic support, Putin claimed that defeating Russia was impossible and that it would never give in to Western attempts to divide society through the war.

Polling by the Lavada Centre suggest 75% of Russians support the war, with just 19% being against it and 6% being unsure.

Another 75% think Russia will be victorious, but these figures have been criticised by analysts for potentially not being accurate.

Putin also paid tribute to those who died on the battlefields – according to the Ukrainian general staff, 824 have died each day in the first few weeks of February, the highest number since the war began last year.

He said there would be a special fund for the families of victims.

The Russian president lashed out at the sanctions from the West too, suggesting that Russia was doing just fine.

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