Mon. Mar 27th, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Western nations Tuesday of igniting and sustaining the warfare in Ukraine, dismissing any blame for Moscow nearly a yr after the Kremlin’s unprovoked invasion of its neighbor that has killed tens of hundreds of individuals.

In his long-delayed state-of-the-nation deal with, Putin solid Russia — and Ukraine — as victims of Western double-dealing and stated Russia, not Ukraine, was the one preventing for its very existence.

“We aren’t preventing the Ukrainian individuals,” Putin stated in a speech days earlier than the warfare’s first anniversary on Friday. Ukraine “has turn out to be hostage of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters, which have successfully occupied the nation.”

The speech reiterated a litany of grievances that the Russian chief has continuously provided as justification for the extensively condemned warfare and ignored worldwide calls for to tug again from occupied areas in Ukraine.

Observers are anticipated to scour it for indicators of how Putin sees the battle, which has turn out to be slowed down, and what tone he may set for the yr forward. The Russian chief vowed no army let-up in Ukrainian territories he has illegally annexed, apparently rejecting any peace overtures in a battle that has reawakened fears of a brand new Chilly Warfare.

As a substitute, he provided his personalised model of latest historical past, which discounted arguments by the Ukrainian authorities that it wanted Western assist to thwart a Russian army takeover.

“Western elites aren’t attempting to hide their targets, to inflict a ‘strategic defeat’ to Russia,” Putin stated within the speech broadcast by all state TV channels. “They intend to remodel the native battle into a world confrontation.”

He added that Russia is ready to answer that as “it will likely be a matter of our nation’s existence.”

Whereas the Structure mandates that the president ship the speech yearly, Putin by no means gave one in 2022, as his troops rolled into Ukraine and suffered repeated setbacks.

Earlier than the speech, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that the Russian chief would deal with the “particular army operation” in Ukraine, as Moscow calls it, and Russia’s financial system and social points. Many observers predicted it will additionally deal with Moscow’s fallout with the West — and Putin started with robust phrases for these nations.

“It’s they who’ve began the warfare. And we’re utilizing pressure to finish it,” Putin stated earlier than an viewers of lawmakers, state officers and troopers who’ve fought in Ukraine.

Putin accused the west of the West of launching “aggressive data assaults” and taking goal at Russian tradition, faith and values as a result of it’s conscious that “it’s not possible to defeat Russia on the battlefield.”

He additionally accused Western nations of waging an assault on Russia’s financial system with sanctions — however declared however they hadn’t “achieved something and won’t obtain something.”

Underscoring the anticipation forward of time, some state TV channels put out a countdown for the occasion beginning Monday, and Russia’s state information company RIA Novosti on Tuesday morning stated the deal with could also be “historic.”

The Kremlin this yr has barred media from “unfriendly” nations, the listing of which incorporates the U.S., the U.Okay. and people within the EU. Peskov stated journalists from these nations will be capable of cowl the speech by watching the published.

Peskov advised reporters that the speech’s delay needed to do with Putin’s “work schedule,” however Russian media experiences linked it to the a number of setbacks Russian forces have suffered on the battlefield in Ukraine.

The Russian president had postponed the state-of-the-nation deal with earlier than: In 2017, the speech was rescheduled for early 2018.

Final yr the Kremlin has additionally canceled two different large annual occasions — Putin’s press convention and a extremely scripted phone-in marathon the place individuals ask the president questions.

Analysts anticipated Putin’s speech can be robust within the wake of U.S. President Joe Biden’s go to to Kyiv on Monday. Biden plans to offer his personal speech later Tuesday in Poland, the place he’s anticipated to focus on the dedication of the central European nation and different allies to Ukraine over the previous yr.

White Home nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan stated that Biden’s deal with wouldn’t be “some sort of face to face” with Putin’s.

“This isn’t a rhetorical contest with anybody else,” stated.

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