Day 363: Putin Blasts West and Withdraws from Nuclear Treaty in Major Address

    Day 363: Putin Blasts West and Withdraws from Nuclear Treaty in Major Address
    Last updated Feb 21, 2023
    Image credit: TASS [via TASS]


    • In a State of the Nation address on Tuesday, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin sought to justify the invasion of Ukraine by alleging that the US and NATO sought to destroy Russia when they launched "not just a military and information, but an economic aggression" against Moscow. "They have not achieved success in either of these areas," he said. "The initiators of the sanctions are punishing themselves."
    • Putin further alleged that the Russian government submitted draft treaties on security guarantees to the US and NATO in December 2021 — three months before the invasion — but said they were ignored in favor of enacting plans in Ukraine that threatened Russia's security.
    • "We aren’t fighting the Ukrainian people," Putin said, before repeating the grievance that Ukraine's population "have become hostages of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters, which have effectively occupied the country." The speech, which also addressed a range of domestic issues, additionally announced that Russia would suspend its participation in the last remaining nuclear treaty with the US — the so-called New START treaty signed in 2010.
    • In a press conference following Putin's speech, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he regretted Russia's decision, adding that it makes the world a more dangerous place. "I’m calling on Russia today to reconsider its decision to suspend its participation in the New START agreement. We have to remember that this is one of the last major arms control agreements we have," he said.
    • Meanwhile, after visiting Ukraine a day earlier, US Pres. Joe Biden arrived in Poland on Tuesday where he also gave an address later in the day. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: "We did not set this speech up as some kind of head-to-head. This is not a rhetorical contest with anyone else. This is an affirmative statement of values and vision for what the world we’re both trying to build and defend should look like."
    • On the ground, at least six civilians were killed and 12 more injured in Russian shelling of the Kherson region on Tuesday. One civilian was also reportedly injured in Russian attacks on the Kharkiv region over the past day.


    Pro-establishment narrative

    Despite using it to try to defend his unprovoked war of aggression, Putin's address repeated a litany of disproven grievances against the US and NATO while failing to take any responsibility for his illegal actions in Ukraine. The speech has not helped his case on the international stage.

    Pro-Russia narrative

    As Putin rightly highlighted, Russia tried to engage the US and NATO on security guarantees before the conflict started — the efforts were ignored and followed by a further buildup of NATO presence on Russia's borders. The blame for this conflict lies with the West for flagrantly posing an unacceptable security risk that prompted a defensive military operation.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 12% chance that there will be more than four deaths between Russia and NATO forces outside of Ukraine before July 1, 2023, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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