Russia: What Putin said in the state of the nation address


Feb 22, 2023

Russia has pulled out of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, an agreement reached with the US, which caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that both countries could deploy. President Putin announced the withdrawal during his address to Parliament on Tuesday, saying the United States turning the war in Ukraine into a global conflict.   

“I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the strategic offensive arms treaty,” Putin said on Tuesday. 

The two countries signed the treaty in Prague in 2010, and it took effect in 2011. Following the expiration of the initial agreement, it was extended in 2021 for five more years after President Biden took office as President of the United States. The treaty helps the two nations with the highest amount of nuclear warheads to watch each other’s back in a bid to avoid a major disaster. Together, they hold about 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear warheads that could destroy the planet multiple times. 

Although pulling out of the New START Treaty was the most talked about aspect of Putin’s 2-hour speech, the Russian leader outlined the country’s achievement in the last year since its army invaded Ukraine. Once again, he blamed the West for starting the fight. 

The West started the war

In two days, it would be exactly one year since the Russian soldiers entered Ukraine and attempted to capture the country’s capital. While the obvious shows that Putin ordered the invasion, which has become the worse confrontation since the Second World War, he has consistently maintained that the West started the war and Moscow was only defending itself. 

“Let me reiterate that [the West] were the ones who started this war, while we used force and are using it to stop the war,” Putin said in his speech. 

He said his country’s invasion of Ukraine was to ensure the security of Russia and to “eliminate the threat coming from the neo-Nazi regime that had taken hold in Ukraine.”

He accused the United States of establishing so many military bases all over the world, including in Ukraine, saying they have covered the planet with them as shown in the maps. He insisted that such moves were becoming a threat to the World, including Russia’s security. 

Although the majority of the world has accused Russia of starting a war in Ukraine, it has always appeared that the West cannot completely exonerate itself from the cause of the war. Many have argued that the United States was allying with the Ukrainian government so it could spy on Russia. Even if that was not the case, there seems to be more to the war than the obvious, as it is unlikely that the invasion is without a known cause. Going further in his speech, president Putin also accused the West of seeking unlimited powers in Ukraine and other parts of the world.

The West is seeking unlimited powers

Although Putin’s statement has been criticised by Western leaders, his argument on how they are seeking unlimited powers sounded logical. 

“We are defending human lives and our common home, while the West seeks unlimited power,” Putin said. 

According to the dreaded leader, the west has spent a whopping $150 billion to arm Ukraine while it only managed to give $60 billion to the poorest countries of the world “despite pretending to care about them.” He added that the West demands maximum obedience in return for the little token given to these poor developing countries. 

“What about all this talk of fighting poverty, sustainable development and protection of the environment?” Putin asked. “Where did it all go? Has it all vanished? Meanwhile, they keep channelling more money into the war effort. They eagerly invest in sowing unrest and encouraging government coups in other countries around the world.”

Putin was not done with the Western powers, especially the United States. He quoted figures from the US that at least almost 900,000 people have been killed during wars initiated by the United States since 2001 and over 38 million people have become refugees. 

“We did not invent these statistics,” Putin continued. “It is the Americans who are providing them.” He insisted that everything the United States has done was to gain significant powers in the world, and it was hypocritical for it to be pretending that all that never happened.

Putin wants the west to read the Holy Books

Like in his previous speeches, president Putin, in Tuesday’s speech, said that the West was trying to rewrite what was normal, even in religious teachings. He said it was morally wrong to coerce religions into accepting same-sex marriages by modifying the “main books of world religions.”

“Look what they are doing to their own people. It is all about the destruction of the family, of cultural and national identity, perversion and abuse of children, including paedophilia, all of which are declared normal in their life,” President Putin said. “They are forcing the priests to bless same-sex marriages. Bless their hearts, and let them do as they please.” 

The 70-year-old said the Russian federation would not intrude into other people’s private lives, but argued that it was wrong to attempt to rewrite holy scriptures to please themselves. 

“Look at the holy scripture and the main books of other world religions,” Putin continued. “They say it all, including that family is the union of a man and a woman, but these sacred texts are now being questioned.” 

He referenced the recent move by the Church of England to explore the idea of a gender-neutral word for God. 

“What is there to say? Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” Putin prayed for the West. 

The war in Ukraine is one that also has a spiritual interpretation. The Russian Orthodox Church and the government of Russia are intertwined. Putin and his men believe a war like the one in Ukraine was to protect Russian society from being influenced by the “Western teachings” of same-sex marriage, transgender, and others. Putin had maintained the need to fight such ideas before they infiltrate Russian society. The Russian Orthodox Church has also mentioned the point while stating its support for the war in Ukraine.

We are not at war with Ukraine, Putin says

Although several thousands of Ukrainians have died since the war started, President Putin believes the war is between his country and the West and not between Russia and Ukraine. He insisted that he was trying to free the Ukrainian people from the current regime that has held the citizens’ hostage.

“We are not at war with the people of Ukraine. I have made that clear many times,” Putin said. “The people of Ukraine have become hostages of the Kyiv regime and its Western handlers, who have in fact occupied that country in the political, military and economic sense and have been destroying Ukrainian industry for decades now as they plundered its natural resources.”

He insisted that Ukraine was a pawn in the hands of the West and a tool that is used to weaken Russian powers.

“It is a sad and dreadful thing to say, but it is a fact,” he said. “The West is using Ukraine as a battering ram against Russia and as a testing range.” He said this was visible from how they continued to arm Ukraine during the first year of the war and vowed to defend Russia despite the enormous support Kyiv is getting from the West.

“The longer the range of the Western systems that will be supplied to Ukraine, the further we will have to move the threat away from our borders,” Putin said.

The West is suffering for its sanctions against Russia

Apart from blasting the West, the Russian president also listed some of his achievements at home. He said despite the several sanctions by the West and their allies, they have not succeeded in weakening the Russian economy. Instead, the sanctions have boasted the country’s economy and sent the rubble to the rooftops. He said those that imposed the sanctions are the same people suffering from the consequences.

“Those who initiated the sanctions are punishing themselves: they sent prices soaring in their own countries, destroyed jobs, forced companies to close, and caused an energy crisis while telling their people that the Russians were to blame for all of this,” Putin said.

He said Russia has shifted to more reliable and predictable business partners, and the country has not been isolated economically as planned by the western leaders. He called on sanctioned Russian oligarchs to return home rather than remain in places where they are not appreciated.

At the start of the war, the United States, the EU, and other countries sanctioned the Russian government, its oligarchs and its companies. They did not participate in the 2022 World cup because of these sanctions. However, to the surprise of many, the Russian economy has not done badly, but the rest of Europe has suffered from high inflation and unprecedented energy crises.

Although Putin’s speech has been criticised by many, his claim on the Russian economy was not wrong in its entirety.

At the end of his speech, President Putin thanked Russians that have supported the war in Ukraine, including the soldiers and spouses of those who died in the war.


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