Russia-Ukraine War: Putin delivers major speech; says Moscow will ‘systematically’ continue offensive

Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy are also expected to deliver speeches ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Amarabati Bhattacharyya

Addressing his nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a major ‘state of the war’ speech on Tuesday at Moscow, where he pledged to “systematically” continue and strengthen Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

He presented his analysis of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war which Moscow refers to as a “special military operation”.

The speech came a year after Putin invaded and launched a military attack on Ukraine on February 24, 2022. It also came after several high-stakes diplomatic moves, such as, US President Joe Biden's surprise visit Kyiv to meet Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy as well as China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, due to visit Moscow.

The 70-year-old began his speech by saying that Ukraine "started the war"; and that Russia has been attempting to settle the conflict in the Donbas region which had been simmering since early 2014 by "peaceful means but was eventually forced to take action".

Putin claimed that prior to Russia launching its invasion, “everything was prepared” for a punitive action by Kyiv in the region, which lies in eastern Ukraine. “I would like to repeat, they started the war, and we used force in order to stop it,” he said.

Attacking the "Western intervention", Putin said: “The Western elite does not conceal their goal, which is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. It means to finish us forever and grow a local conflict into global opposition. That’s the way we understand it and accordingly, we will respond to that.“

The income flow of heavily sanctioned Russia, Putin believes, has still not dried up. Claiming that Russia has all financial resources to protect its national security and development, he said that domestic companies have rebuilt their supply chains in response to the sanctions and that Moscow is working with other countries to build new payments systems and financial architecture.

Referring to the West, as 'Nazis in Ukraine', Putin said that it was essential for Russia to 'denazify' it's borders. He warned Ukraine's "Western allies" against supplying long-range military aid to Ukraine, saying such support will draw a military response from Moscow.

Moreover, Putin alleged that Kyiv is serving foreign “The people of Ukraine themselves have become hostages of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters, who have actually occupied this country in a political, military, and economic sense,” the Russian leader said. “The regime is not serving their national interest,” he added.

Concluding his combative speech on Ukraine, Putin said that he understands the "difficulties faced by relatives of Russian soldiers who have had died fighting in Ukraine and pledged to provide them with targeted support" via a new special fund.

Prior to Putin's speech, The Mirror reported quoting Russian telegram channel General SVR that Vladimir Putin is suffering serious medical problems including cancer, that his “deteriorating health condition” means an “inability to actively participate in various activities during the treatment” and he will be unable to “fully participate in governance”.

“Over the weekend, Putin underwent another medical check-up. The recent treatment did not give the expected results and a new one, based on the results of the examination, has been scheduled and will start on March 5. This can and probably will seriously influence the president's plans and decisions in the coming days,” the report said.

The report further emphasised: “It should be recalled that at the end of last year, due to the onset of therapy, Putin was forced to cancel a number of large traditional events and temporarily withdraw from most of the information agenda.“

During his recent meeting with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, the Russian president appeared unwell and shaken, as seen in several videos shared on social media. This has further increased the speculation about his ill-health. 

A year into the armed conflict, tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers on both sides have been killed, massive destruction has reduced cities to rubble, and millions of refugees have fled.

There have been countless United Nation General Assembly meetings, resolutions, appeals from the global community, and various  sanctions imposed by the EU and its allies, however, the situation has progressively worsened and there has been no definitive cease-fire yet.

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