Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Western countries of starting and maintaining the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, rejecting any blame for Moscow, nearly a year after the Kremlin’s unprovoked invasion of its neighbor killed tens of thousands of people.
In his long-delayed address to the nation, Putin portrayed Russia and Ukraine as victims of Western double-dealing and said it was Russia that was fighting for its existence, not Ukraine.
“We are not fighting against the Ukrainian people,” Putin said in a speech on Friday, days before the first anniversary of the war. Ukraine “has become a hostage of the Kiev regime and its Western masters, who have effectively occupied the country.”
Putin also said Russia was ending its participation in the New START treaty signed with the United States in 2010 and extended to 2021 in the early days of the Biden administration. The treaty limits the number of long-range nuclear warheads they can deploy and limits. the use of missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
The speech echoed a series of grievances that the Russian leader has often offered as justification for the widely condemned war and ignoring international demands to withdraw from Ukraine’s occupied territories.
Russia’s leader has vowed no military concessions in the Ukrainian territories he illegally annexed, apparently rejecting any peace offer in a conflict that has reignited fears of a new Cold War.
The US is provoking a global confrontation. Putin
Analysts expected Putin’s speech to be tough after US President Joe Biden’s visit to Kiev on Monday.
Putin offered his own personalized version of recent history that dismissed the Ukrainian government’s arguments that it needed Western help to thwart Russian military dominance.
“The Western elites are not trying to hide their goals, to cause a “strategic defeat” to Russia,” Putin said, speaking on all state television channels. “They intend to turn the local conflict into a global confrontation.”
He said that Russia is ready to answer it, because “it will be the question of the existence of our country”.
Putin has accused the West of “aggressive information attacks” and targeting Russian culture, religion and values because he recognizes that “Russia cannot be defeated on the battlefield.”
He also accused Western countries of attacking Russia’s economy with sanctions, but stated that these actions “have achieved nothing and will achieve nothing”.
Although the Constitution requires the president to give a speech every year, Putin never said in 2022. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the delay in the speech was due to Putin’s “work schedule,” but Russian media attributed it to Russia’s many setbacks. forces suffered on the battlefield of Ukraine.
Biden will speak in Poland
Biden plans to make a speech later Tuesday in Warsaw, where he is expected to highlight the commitment of Poland and other allies to Ukraine over the past year. More than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees have settled in Poland since the war began, and Poland has also provided Ukraine with $3.8 billion in military and humanitarian aid, according to the White House.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that Biden’s speech to Putin will not be “some face to face”.
“This is not a rhetorical contest with someone else,” he said. “It’s a statement of values, a vision of what the world should be that we’re both trying to build and protect.”
The conflict, Europe’s most significant since World War II, has already killed tens of thousands of people, destroyed Ukraine’s infrastructure and damaged the global economy.
While Biden is trying to use his whirlwind trip to Europe as a moment of affirmation for Ukraine and allies, the White House has also stressed that there is no clear endgame to the war in the near future, and the situation on the ground is getting more complicated. .
The administration revealed on Sunday that it has new intelligence suggesting that China, left on the sidelines of the conflict, is now considering sending lethal aid to Moscow. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it could become a “serious problem” if Beijing followed suit.
Since last year, the US has provided nearly $113 billion in aid to Ukraine, while European allies have provided tens of billions of dollars and taken in millions of Ukrainian refugees who have fled the conflict.
Some Republicans, particularly in the House of Representatives, have balked at the amount of US aid to the country.
WATCH |: The level of pollution in Ukraine has multiplied in the last year.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, considered a potential 2024 presidential candidate, criticized the Biden administration’s “blank check policy” in an interview on Monday.
“The fear of Russia going into NATO countries and all that and steamrolling, you know, it hasn’t even come close to happening,” DeSantis told Fox News. “I think they have shown themselves to be a third-rate military power.”
In a U.S. poll last week, published by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 48 percent said they favored the U.S. providing arms to Ukraine, compared with 29 percent, and 22 percent said they would. they don’t give to anyone. for and against. In May 2022, less than three months into the war, 60 percent of US adults said they favored sending weapons to Ukraine.