Putin and Biden give duelling speeches in Moscow, Warsaw
Russia’s president declared that Moscow will not participate in the New Start Agreement with Washington, which limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed by the two countries, in a state of the nation address. This was just before the anniversary of his invasion and occupation of Ukraine.
“Our relations have degraded, and that’s totally and utterly the US’s fault,” Putin stated in his delayed speech to Russia’s political elite on Tuesday. This came hours after Joe Biden made a starkly different assessment during remarks in Warsaw.
Antony Blinken, US secretary of State, stated that the Russian leader’s decision not to participate in the arms control agreement was “deeply unfortunate” and irresponsible. However, other western officials spoke out more strongly about the long-term consequences.
Josep Borrell was the chief diplomat of the EU and said that Putin was “dismantling the security system that was created after the end the cold war”. Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, stated that “the entire arms control architecture” has been destroyed. He added: “More nukes and less control makes the world even more dangerous.”
After a breakdown of talks regarding resuming inspections of nuclear weapons, which were halted at the heights the Covid-19 pandemic, the US stated in January that Russia was not complying with the 2010 treaty.
Russia has suspended the treaty, which means that it will not share more information with the US regarding its nuclear arsenal. However, Russia’s foreign ministry stated later that some notifications would be continued.
Russia claims that talks on the treaty which expires in 2026 are unlikely to be resumed unless the west agrees not to include Kyiv in comprehensive negotiations about Ukraine. This is something the US has rejected.
Putin suggested that Russia might resume nuclear testing, but he said it would only do this in response to US actions.
“If the US conducts testing, then so will I. Russia’s president stated that no one should be under any illusions about the possibility of destroying global strategic parity. He resisted the temptation to repeat earlier, veiled threats to use nukes against the west or Ukraine in order to defend Russia.
Putin’s speech was meant to show Moscow’s determination, despite its failure in Ukraine’s initial blitzkrieg plans and the terrible losses Russia has sustained. Putin stated, “This is about our country’s very existence.” He added, referring to the west: “They started the war.” To stop it, we will use force.”
Biden’s speech was delivered in front of Warsaw’s Royal Castle, a day after he surprised Kyiv. The US president responded to Putin’s claim about western belligerence causing the war.
Putin stated today that the West did not plan to attack Russia. . . Biden stated that war was not a necessity and is a tragedy.
Moscow banned foreigners from Putin’s speech and instead invited military veterans and proKremlin youth activists who were willing to join Russia’s political elite.
Putin stated that the “longer-range western systems supplied to Ukraine are, we will be forced more to push the threat away our borders,” referring to the growing supply of advanced weapons to Kyiv.
After Putin’s attempted annexation in four Ukrainian regions partially under Russian control, the Kremlin postponed Putin’s address and cancelled his annual end of year press conference.
Putin stated that Russia would establish a foundation to help war veterans and their families in an apparent acknowledgement of the country’s massive casualties. Western estimates indicate that the Ukrainian side has been subject to roughly half of the Russian casualties.
Putin ensured that Russia’s economy, which contracted only 2.1% this year despite Western attempts to isolate it from global markets, was not affected by the worst of the sanctions.
He repeated an almost a decade-old call to “de-offshorise” Russia’s business elite, asking them to register foreign assets in Russian jurisdictions.
Putin stated that “no ordinary citizen felt sorry for those who lost foreign assets and invested into yachts and palaces.”
Privately, many of Russia’s highest officials and executives from state companies spoke against the war. However, they stayed in their positions and made peace with the president rather than speaking out against him.
Putin stated that Russia’s people were united behind the war. He cited Pyotr Stolypin, a Tsarist official from the 20th century, who invoked “Russia’s only historical, higher right — The right to be strong”.