In a furious address on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would no longer participate in the last-standing nuclear arms limitation agreement with the United States.
He also made it clear that he would not alter his approach to the conflict in Ukraine.
Putin claimed that his nation and Ukraine were the victims of Western deceit in his long-delayed state-of-the-nation address and that Russia, not Ukraine, was struggling for its existence.
Days before the war’s first anniversary on Friday, Putin stated in a speech, “We are not attacking the Ukrainian people.
“The Kyiv dictatorship and its Western masters, who have essentially conquered the nation, have turned the Ukrainian people into hostages.”
The Russian leader restated a laundry list of complaints that he has frequently cited as justification for the widely denounced military campaign while pledging to continue fighting in a confrontation that has rekindled concerns about a new Cold War.
Putin increased the stakes by announcing that Moscow would stop participating in the New START Treaty.
The agreement, which the United States and Russia signed in 2010, limits the number of long-range nuclear warheads that each party may use and regulates the use of missiles that can transport atomic weapons.
Putin also stated that if the U.S. resumes nuclear weapons testing, Russia should be prepared to follow suit, thereby ending a global moratorium on such testing.
Antony Blinken, the secretary of state for the United States, called Moscow’s action “very terrible and quite irresponsible.”
He said during a visit to Greece, “We’ll be observing to see what Russia does.”
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and sprinted into Kyiv, seemingly anticipating an easy victory.
Moscow’s troops were met with fierce opposition from Ukrainian forces, supported by Western armaments. While Ukraine has returned many of the territories that Russia had previously taken, in other places, the two sides have remained mired in tit-for-tat conflicts.
The conflict has rekindled the historic rivalry between Russia and the West, reenergized NATO, and posed the most significant challenge to Putin’s more than two-decade leadership. U.S. Following a surprise trip to Ukraine, President Joseph Biden was in Poland on Tuesday to promote Western unity. He had his speech prepared for the occasion.
Putin’s speech was supposed to contain clues about how the Russian president views the conflict, where he might take it, and how it might finish. Despite the Constitution’s need to do so, Putin did not give a speech in 2022, as his army advanced into Ukraine and had numerous setbacks.
Much of Putin’s speech was repetitive as he presented his version of recent events, dismissing the Ukrainian government’s claims that it needed assistance from the West to prevent a Russian military takeover.
In the address broadcast on all state TV stations, Putin stated, “Western elites are not trying to conceal their aims, to inflict a “strategic loss” on Russia.” “They want to escalate the regional conflict into a worldwide one.”
He has repeatedly portrayed NATO’s expansion to encompass nations close to Russia as an existential danger to his country, adding that Moscow was ready to retaliate since “it will be a matter of our country’s existence.”
While in Ukraine on Tuesday, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni expressed her hope that Putin might have taken a different approach.
Meloni added in English, “What we heard this morning was propaganda that we already know. He claims that (Russia) worked on diplomacy to avert the confrontation, but the reality is that both sides are engaged in self-defense.
While Russian forces in Ukraine strike civilian targets, such as hospitals, and are frequently accused of committing war crimes, Putin denied involvement.
The Ukrainian military said that while Putin was speaking, Russian soldiers shelled the southern cities of Kherson and Ochakiv, killing six people.
The Russian military was “again cruelly slaughtering the civilian population,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy complained.
Putin began his speech with harsh words for the nations who have given Kyiv vital military backing and warned them against providing any longer-range weapons, as many analysts had thought his speech would address Moscow’s rift with the West.
“They are the ones who started the conflict. And we are employing force to end it,” Putin stated in front of parliamentarians, government representatives, and former Ukrainian troops.
Because the West is aware that “it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield,” Putin added, it is attacking Russian culture, religion, and morals.
He also said that Western sanctions would be ineffective, claiming they had not “achieved anything” and would not.