Impossible to defeat Russia, will continue Ukraine offensive 'systematically': Putin
In his annual state of the nation address on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to "systematically" continue its offensive against Ukraine. He said defeating Russia on the battlefield was impossible while also acknowledging the country was going through "difficult times." Putin claimed Russia has all the financial resources needed for its national security despite sanctions, adding that "traitors" will be brought to justice.
Why does this story matter?
- Putin's statements come just days ahead of the first anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war.
- Russia invaded Ukraine over territorial disputes and to stop the latter from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), claiming that it aims to destabilize Russia.
- In December 2022, however, Putin asserted that Russia wanted to end the war in Ukraine and suggested a diplomatic resolution aimed at achieving peace.
Difficult times for Russia, world: Putin
Addressing key Russian officials and political elites, Putin on Tuesday said, "I am speaking to you at a difficult and key moment for our country, at a time of profound changes everywhere in the world." He said Russia is defending its interests and there should be no difference between civilized countries and the rest, adding the majority of Russians support its actions in Donbas.
West started war, we tried stopping it: Putin
Tearing into the West, Putin said it was diverting people's attention from domestic problems. He blamed the West for fomenting and then funding the war, for cynically cheating its people, and for trying to convert a local conflict into a global one. He said the West began making Ukraine "anti-Russia" long ago and that Ukraine's military divisions have Nazi attributes.
Our soldiers fighting for historical justice: Putin
Putin further thanked the Russian people for their courage and resolution. Addressing the families of soldiers killed in the war, he said they fought for the future and restoration of historical justice. He proposed to set up a special state fund to support veterans and fallen soldiers. Meanwhile, he proposed raising the minimum wage by 18.5% for 2024 to RUB 19,242 ($258) per month.
Putin has lost touch with reality: Ukrainian president's aide
Reacting to Putin's statements, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's senior aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, said his speech showed that he had lost touch with reality. "He is in a completely different reality, where there is no opportunity to conduct a dialogue about justice and international law," he said. Separately, the United Nations (UN) said around 8,000 civilians have been killed since the beginning of the war.