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21 Feb, 2023 16:44

West’s bet on neo-Nazis in Ukraine, failed sanctions and key nuke deal suspension: Highlights from Putin’s major speech

The Russian leader did not mince his words as he outlined tensions with the West during an address to parliament
West’s bet on neo-Nazis in Ukraine, failed sanctions and key nuke deal suspension: Highlights from Putin’s major speech

Russia attempted to peacefully resolve the issues involving Ukraine after 2014, but Western leaders were secretly preparing a completely different scenario, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday during his address to the Federal Assembly, the country’s main legislative body.

Speaking to both chambers of parliament as well as senior officials and public figures, the Russian leader touched on a variety of key topics during a speech lasting almost two hours.  

From the military operation in Ukraine to economic and social issues, here is a recap of what the president said.

Russia not only intends to firmly protect its own interests, but also its belief that the modern world should not be divided into “civilized countries” and “all the rest,” Putin said. He stressed the need for close partnerships without exceptionalism or resorting to aggression.  

The president insisted that Moscow remains open to constructive dialogue with the West, and continues to call for a united and fair global security system. However, Putin claimed that instead of cooperating, the West has only issued a muddled response and hidden behind the umbrella of NATO, which continues to expand its borders towards Russia while American military bases spread throughout the world.

Putin recalled that all of Russia’s security guarantee proposals were rejected outright by the US and NATO, which he said made it clear that the go-ahead for aggressive actions by Kiev had already been given. According to the president, there was clear evidence that another “punitive action” was being planned in Donbass for February 2022.  

Putin said Kiev and its Western backers initiated the conflict in Ukraine, while Russia is now using force to put an end to it.

Western nations used the “despicable method of deceit” during campaigns in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, Putin argued. Regarding Ukraine, Putin said the West had openly admitted that the 2014-2015 Minsk agreements were a bluff. While “Donbass was burning and blood was being spilled,” Ukraine’s backers “were playing with people’s lives,” he stated. 

Putin continued by claiming that the West does not actually care who it supports in its fight against Russia, which is why it turns a blind eye to Ukrainian fighters openly celebrating notorious Nazi divisions and bearing their insignia.

Putin asserted that the Ukrainian people have become expendable hostages for Kiev and its Western backers, who have occupied Ukraine in a political, military, and economic sense, devastating the country for the past several decades.

Putin suggested that the West is treating Ukraine as a battering ram against Russia, and is using the battlefield as a test-firing range. However, he stressed that one thing “everyone should understand” is that the longer the range of Western weapons systems being delivered to Ukraine, the farther Russia will be forced to move the threat away from its borders. “It’s only natural,” said the president.

Western elites no longer hide their true intentions and are openly calling for a “strategic defeat for Russia,” Putin added. He accused them of trying to transform a local conflict into a global confrontation, but argued that Russia will “react accordingly” to any threats. 

At the same time, Putin insisted that the West recognizes that it cannot defeat Russia militarily, which is why it is launching increasingly aggressive information attacks against Russian culture, history, the Orthodox Church, and other traditional values.

The West has not only opened a military and information frontline against Russia, but also an economic one, according to Putin. However, its efforts have backfired and ultimately failed, despite attempts to spark inflation, crash the ruble, and blatantly steal Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, he added. 

“Anti-Russian sanctions are only a tool,” Putin observed, claiming that the goal, as Western officials themselves have stated, is to “force suffering” upon Russian citizens. “But they miscalculated, and Russia’s economy proved much more robust than the West expected,” the president argued. 

Russia is not just adapting to new realities, but is bringing its economy to new frontiers and working with its partners on establishing a stable and secure system of international settlements, independent of the dollar or other Western reserve currencies, Putin explained.

Putin stated that Moscow is well aware of the West’s involvement in attempts by Ukrainian forces to strike Russia’s strategic aviation. This, coupled with “absurd” requests from NATO to be allowed to inspect Russia’s defense facilities within the framework of the New START nuclear treaty, leaves Moscow no choice but to temporarily withdraw from the agreement, the president announced.