Moscow, Feb 21 (EFE).- Russia’s president Vladimir Putin on Tuesday used his long-delayed state of the nation address to lambast the West, which he accused of starting the war in Ukraine.
The Kremlin leader’s first state of the nation address since April 2021 came just days before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and one day after United State president Joe Biden’s highly symbolic visit to Kyiv.
“Western elites” and the Kyiv government were responsible for starting the war in Ukraine and Russia was obliged to use force to stop it, Putin, 70, claimed.
He added that Russia would accomplish its objectives “step by step” and framed the Ukraine conflict as an existential threat to Russia.
“A year ago, with the aim of protecting people in our historic lands, to ensure the security of our country, to eliminate the threat of the neo-Nazi regime that emerged in Ukraine following the 2014 coup, a decision was made to launch a special military operation,” Putin said.
He said Russia had tried to resolve the situation peacefully and accused Western governments of lying.
“I want to emphasize that even before the special military operation, Kyiv was negotiating the supply of air defense systems, fighter jets and other heavy equipment,” he said.
Putin warned that Russia would be forced to push Ukraine back further with respect to the increasingly long-range missile supplies coming from Kyiv’s Western allies, who want to escalate the war into a global conflict, he said.
He claimed Ukraine has become hostage to its Western “masters.”
The long-serving president also took swipes at Western values, including gay rights, and thanked Russian soldiers for their service in Ukraine.
A number of Russian soldiers and military officials sat in the audience of the state of the nation address alongside senior members of the government, lawmakers and religious leaders.
The invasion of Ukraine – referred to by Russian officials as a special military operation – began in the early hours of February 24, 2022, shortly after Putin recognized the self-proclaimed sovereignty of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine’s east.
As he delivered his speech Tuesday, the United Nations published a new report stating that at least 8,006 civilians have been killed in the war in the last year.