: Putin delivers his State of the Union Speech – A final nuclear warning against the West?
Today Putin delivered a major speech to Russia’s political and military elite, assessing the Ukraine invasion.
Russia’s constitution requires the president to deliver an address to parliament annually, and Putin hasn’t done so since April 2021.
Billboards were set all over Moscow in preparation of his speech, with messages saying: “Look and Listen”.
Russian state television also started a countdown to Putin's historic speech.
Many consider there was never such an importance and promotion placed by state media on any of Putin’s previous speeches.
Putin’s speech comes just a day after Joe Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv.
Typically, more than 1,000 guests attend Putin’s state of the nation speech, including lawmakers, judges, regional administrative officials and religious leaders. This year, Putin also asked war veterans to attend.
Putin began with his standard statement:
"I have already said many times that the people of Ukraine have become the hostage of the Kyiv regime and its Western overlords, who have effectively occupied this country in the political, military and economic sense.”
Putin further added that the elites of the West do not hide their purpose: “they intend to transform a local conflict into a phase of global confrontation.”
Putin didn’t fail to spice his speech about jeopardy and aggression against Russia with a pinch of the good old Culture wars:
“Look at what they do with their own peoples: the destruction of the family, cultural and national identity, perversion, and the abuse of children are declared the norm. And priests are forced to bless same-sex marriages.”
Speaking on Russia’s economy Putin said that the Western plans to weaken the Russian economy through sanctions, failed:
“Many basic civilian sectors of the domestic economy not only have not shrunk but have actually increased production... Russian farmers harvested a record crop of over 150 million tons of grain, including over 100 million tons of wheat.”
“By the end of the agricultural year, that is, by June 30, 2023, we will be able to bring the total volume of grain exports to 55-60 million tons”, concludes Putin.
On the subject of the country’s resilience, Putin said that “the Russian economy and management system turned out to be much stronger than the West believed”…..
“Thanks to a strong balance of payments, Russia does not need to borrow abroad, bow down, beg for money, and then have a long dialogue about what, how much and under what conditions to give.”
Putin further boasted about Russia as an investment heaven: "Recent events have convincingly shown that the image of the West as a safe haven, a refuge for capital, is a phantom, a fake.”
“Trying to run around with your hand outstretched, groveling, begging for money, is pointless... Launch new projects, make money, invest in Russia. This is how you will multiply your capital and earn people's recognition and gratitude for generations to come...”
Finally, Putin shared his expectations about increasing trade and cooperation with India, Iran and Pakistan.
Putin also announced that Russia is suspending its participation in the strategic offensive arms treaty (START).
The treaty was signed in 2010. It came into force the following year and was extended in 2021 for five more years after Joe Biden took office.
The treaty caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy, and the deployment of land and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.
Putin further clarified that Russia will not “withdraw” completely from the treaty, which has been extended to run through Feb. 4, 2026, but he said that Russia would not allow NATO countries to inspect its nuclear arsenal.
Putin said that “The US is developing new types of nuclear weapons... If the US holds tests, then we will too. No one should be under dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed."
“It’s they who have started the war. And we are using force to end it”
Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with close to 6,000 warheads, according to experts. Together, Russia and the United States hold about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads.
There are further plans for a big rally and special parliament sessions the day after Putin’s address could suggest some new steps, turned into legislation, and celebrated in a choreographed show of public support.
A similar approach was used when the seizure of Crimea was formalized - in Moscow’s view - in 2014.
We will continue to cover the West's response to Puntin's speech and any action by either side
Our focus will be on China and whether they will offer Russia military support