Vladimir Putin presents Russia as besieged fortress ready for long war

In his address to the nation, the Russian president also announced the end of the New Start for nuclear weapons control Treaty.

by Benoît Vitkine (Moscow, correspondent)

A year after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, the observation is twofold: the Russian army is bogged down and Vladimir Putin repeats itself. The Russian President pronounced, Tuesday, February 21, his long -awaited address to the nation – a long speech mixing diatribes with almost messianic accents and announcements rather evoking the monotony of a five -year plan.

According to the Russian Constitution, the event must take place once a year, within the walls of the Kremlin, in the presence of the political elite. Mr. Putin had allowed himself a sprain in 2022, by skipping the exercise. “The events follow a very rapid dynamic,” he justified in December, seeming to signify that he expected new developments before expressing himself.

What has happened since then? On the forehead, not much. After months of deadly assaults, the Russian forces have still not managed to take Bakhmout, the main fixing point in eastern Ukraine. The Russian leader has however managed to discuss for almost two hours, sometimes with great details on secondary subjects, without expressing judgment as for the situation on the front or evoking the slightest specific objective. “We are going to solve the tasks that arise step by step, with method,” he only promised, adding: “It is impossible to beat Russia on the battlefield.”

A single scale

Unique unexpected and magnitude announcement, the “suspension” of Moscow’s participation in the New Start Treaty on nuclear disarmament. Signed in 2010, this treaty is the last bilateral agreement of the genus Russian and American binding, and is intended to limit their nuclear arsenals. Russia had already announced in early August to suspend the inspections planned for its military sites. Mr. Putin also called on the Russian forces to stand “ready to carry out at nuclear weapons”, in case the United States takes the first such initiative.

For the rest, the Russian president preferred to discuss once again, at length, on “assault” suffered by Russia and the misdeeds of the West. This one carries, “the full responsibility for the outbreak of the conflict, its escalation and the increase in the number of victims”, in the same way as “the Kiev regime”. The logic of Mr. Putin is known: Westerners, “after centuries of colonialism, hegemony and diktats”, want to “end it once and for all with us” and try to “transform Ukraine into a Anti-Russia “.

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/Media reports cited above.