In his state-of-the-nation address Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the West for provoking and prolonging the war in Ukraine and announced that he had suspended Moscow’s participation in the START treaty, Russia’s last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States. The Russian leader also called out western elites he accused of targeting Russian culture, saying their decadence will lead “to a real spiritual disaster.”
The treaty, signed by the U.S. and Russia in 2010, places limits on the number intercontinental-range nuclear weapons the two sides can deploy. Putin said Russia could resume nuclear weapons tests if the United States does so.
Following Putin’s speech, however, Russia said “it will respect the caps on nuclear weapons under the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the U.S. even after President Vladimir Putin suspended Moscow’s participation in the pact,” according to the AP.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also noted that Russia will continue to exchange information about test launches of ballistic missiles per earlier agreements with the United States.
In his state of the nation address, Putin said Russia will suspend its participation in the 2010 New START treaty that envisages caps on the number of nuclear weapons and envisages broad inspections of nuclear sites, saying such inspections don’t make sense after the U.S. and its allies declared the goal of dealing Russia a military defeat in Ukraine.
In his long address, Putin argued that it was Russia, not Ukraine, fighting for its very existence.
The first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is this Friday.
“We aren’t fighting the Ukrainian people,” Putin said in the speech broadcast on all state TV channels. “The Ukrainian people have become hostages of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters, which have effectively occupied the country.”
He told his audience of lawmakers, state officials, religious leaders and soldiers that Western sanctions hadn’t “achieved anything and will not achieve anything.”
The Russian president also blasted “western elites,” who have been open about their goal “to inflict a ‘strategic defeat’ to Russia,” adding, “they intend to transform the local conflict into a global confrontation.”
Putin told his people that Russia was prepared for that since “it will be a matter of our country’s existence.”
Putin had strong words for countries like the U.S. that have provided Kyiv with military support and warned them against supplying any longer-range weapons.
“It’s they who have started the war. And we are using force to end it,” he said.
Putin also accused the West targeting Russia’s culture, religion and values because it is aware that “it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield.”
“See what they do with their own peoples—the destruction of the family, cultural and national identity, perversion, mockery of children, and pedophilia are declared the norm,” Putin said.
The Russian leader said adults have the right to live as they want, and Russia has no interest in invading private lives, but advised people to “look at the Holy Scriptures,” and the sacred books of other major religions. “Everything is said there,” he declared, “including that the family is the union of a man and a woman.” This pronouncement drew applause from the audience.
“Millions of people in the West understand that they are leading to a real spiritual disaster,” Putin added.
“See what they do with their own peoples—the destruction of the family, cultural and national identity, perversion, mockery of children, and pedophilia are declared the norm.”
Putin’s critique of the West is not wrong.pic.twitter.com/M3X1ZbyyyB
— Gonzalo Lira (@GonzaloLira1968) February 21, 2023
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, a conservative, responded to Putin’s speech while visiting Ukraine on Tuesday.
“What we heard this morning was propaganda that we already know,” Meloni said in English. “He says (Russia) worked on diplomacy to avoid the conflict, but the truth is that there is somebody who is the invader and somebody who is defending itself.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described Putins remarks about suspending the START Treaty as “really unfortunate and very irresponsible.”
“We’ll be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does,” he said while visiting Greece.
China and Russia have aligned their foreign policies to oppose Washington. Beijing has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion or atrocities against civilians in Ukraine while strongly criticizing Western economic sanctions on Moscow. At the end of last year, Russia and China held joint naval drills in the East China Sea.
The deputy head of Ukraine’s intelligence service, Vadym Skibitskyi, told The Associated Press that his agency hasn’t so far seen any signs that China is providing weapons to Moscow.
Over the weekend, Blinken reportedly told China that it would be a “serious problem” if Beijing provided arms and ammunition to Russia.
Joe Biden also gave a speech Tuesday in Poland, although White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan cautioned reporters that Biden’s address would not be “some kind of head to head” with Putin’s.
“This is not a rhetorical contest with anyone else,” said.
Biden boasted that NATO is “more united and more unified than ever before” to fight Russia, setting the stage for a prolonged war.
“Putin is confronted with something today that he didn’t think was possible a year ago — the democracies around the world have grown stronger, not weaker; but the autocrats around the world have grown weaker, not stronger,” Biden said.
“One year into this war, Putin no longer doubts the strength of our coalition, but he still doubts our conviction; he doubts our staying power; he doubts our continued support for Ukraine; he doubts they can remain unified,” Biden said. “But there should be no doubt — our support for Ukraine will not waiver. NATO will not be divided and we will not tire.”
Throughout his boilerplate, cliché-ridden speech, Biden frequently slurred his words including during the “rousing” close to the speech. Biden, whose policies forced masks and experimental vaccines on Americans against their will during the pandemic, began loudly shouting about “freedom.”
“There is no sweeter word than freedom,” Biden said. “There is no nobler goal than freedom. There’s no higher aspiration than freedom. Americans know that and you know it,” he added.
“Freedom. The enemy of the tyrant and the hope of the brave and the truth of the ages is freedom!” Biden declared.
Biden slurs speech while trying to give a rousing close in Poland pic.twitter.com/2EP0cuC7Hb
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 21, 2023