Putin accuses West of starting war in Ukraine in long, lacklustre speech

Russian President Vladmir Putin accused the West of starting the war in Ukraine, but said that he would not start a nuclear war, in a lengthy and rambling speech to the nation on Tuesday.

Putin left it until the closing minutes of his nearly two-hour speech to announce that Russia was suspending, but abandoning, the nuclear-arms reduction START treaty with the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he gives his annual state of the nation address in Moscow.Credit:Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

“We know that they are thinking about testing their nuclear weapons, including the fact that in the US they are testing new types of nuclear weapons,” Putin said.

“We’re not exiting the agreement, we’re putting a halt on it.”

He said that the US, France and the UK had their nuclear weapons aimed at Russia.

“Of course, we’re not going to strike first,” he said, on the use of nuclear weapons.

He said he was working on a revamp of the military strategy for what he calls the “special military operation” he ordered almost one year ago to the day in Ukraine. The war has become bogged in a stalemate, but Russia and Ukraine have suffered heavy casualties.

Putin’s meandering speech focused heavily on domestic policies, including education and infrastructure, but he launched into one of his characteristic attacks on the West, including gay marriage.

He falsely claimed that paedophilia is “totally normal” in the West and then complained about the legalisation of gay marriage in many Western countries. He disparaged a proposal by the Church of England to refer to God in gender-neutral terms.

“What can you say here,” he said.

“We will never be similar to Western regimes and Kyiv regimes.”

Putin repeatedly railed against the West, accusing it of allowing the growth of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s and doing the same with Ukraine.

“History repeats itself,” he said. “We are confident in our power, truth is with us.

“Western elites have become a symbol of total, unprincipled lies to their own people. They’re the ones who started the war. We are using force to stop it.”

President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that was absurd.

“Nobody is attacking Russia,” Sullivan, who travelled with Biden to Kyiv on Monday, said.

“There’s a kind of absurdity in the notion that Russia was under some form of military threat from Ukraine or anyone else.

“If Russia stops fighting the war in Ukraine and goes home, the war ends.

“If Ukraine stops fighting, and the United States and the coalition stops helping them fight, Ukraine disappears from the map.

“So I think that kind of tells you everything you need to know about who’s responsible for this war.”

Biden is in Poland following his morale-boosting trip on Monday to the Ukrainian capital to visit President Volodymr Zelensky.

The US President is due to speak later.

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