War in Ukraine: Key takeaways from Vladimir Putin’s State of the Union Address

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused the West of using the conflict in Ukraine to “finish” Russia, saying in an annual address to the nation that Westerners were “responsible” for the escalation.

“The elites of the West have made no secret of their intention: to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, which means to finish with us once and for all,” he said in a speech three days before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion. attack

“The Western elites are entirely responsible for the escalation of the Ukrainian conflict and its victims (…),” the Russian president reiterated his thesis that the West supports neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine. – Russian Government.

Before that, a year after his offensive in Ukraine began, he said he was determined to continue it, despite mobilizing hundreds of thousands of reservists as his army struggled for months on the battlefield.

“It was decided to carry out a special military operation to ensure the security of our country and eliminate the threats of the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine after the 2014 coup. And we will gradually, carefully and methodically address the objectives that arise before us”, he hammered.

Confronting the country’s political elite and military that fought in Ukraine, he thanked “all the Russian people for their courage and determination.”

Failure of barriers

Putin, however, did not outline a strategy for winning the conflict in Ukraine or mention Russian military losses, which Ukraine and the West say are dire.

Referring to the international sanctions hitting Russia, Putin opined that the West has “achieved nothing and cannot achieve anything”, while the Russian economy has resisted better than expected by experts.

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“We have ensured the stability of the economic situation and protected the citizens,” he noted, believing the West had failed to “destabilize our society.”

According to him, a mere 2.1% drop in GDP by 2022 is a success. He also assured that inflation will soon stabilize near its annual target of 4%.

Addressing wealthy Russian businessmen whose assets, yachts or accounts abroad have been seized as part of the sanctions, Putin insisted that “no one among the common people feels sorry for them”, recalling how an elite of oligarchs grew richer with the fall of the Soviet Union. .

So the Russian president called them to economic patriotism: “The sources of future well-being must be here, in the native Russia”.

“Invest in Russia,” he said, “and the government and society will support you.”

Traitors and pedophilia

Vladimir Putin has also called for the prosecution of “traitors” in Russia, amid a crackdown on any voice critical of the Kremlin and the conflict in Ukraine, with arrests and harsh prison sentences.

“Those who betray Russia must be held accountable before the law,” the Russian president declared during his address to the nation, promising it was not a “witch hunt.”

Any critical voice from the Kremlin is not tolerated in Russia. Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, any criticism of the military has been punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and some opposition figures who have not been exiled, such as Ilya Yashin and Vladimir Kara-Murza, have been jailed. But many anonymous individuals have also been arrested for taking an anti-Kremlin stand.

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Tens of thousands of Russians, perhaps hundreds of thousands, have been in exile for a year fearing repression or being mobilized at the front.

Finally, Putin, as he has done for years, once again portrayed the West as decadent, believing that pedophilia has become the norm there.

“Look at what they do to their own people: the destruction of families, cultural and national identities, perversion and child abuse, even child abuse is regularly (…) declared (…) and priests are obliged to bless marriages between homosexuals,” he said. said in his speech.

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