Russia Suspends Participation in Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, Its Economy Has Survived Under Sanctions, And Only Robbery awaits Oligarchs Abroad.
Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a message to the people. Contrary to the expectations cultivated by some Telegram channels from this speech, sharp and fateful statements , they were not made. The general tone of the message can be described as inertial-routine-working .
Vladimir Putin began his speech by mentioning the war in Ukraine. His main theses boiled down to the fact that the Russian Federation will “consistently solve its tasks” in Ukraine. In other words, there is clearly no question of any “freeze” or “de-escalation”, the intentions of which are being attributed to the Russian side by some Western media .
Moreover, Putin repeated the theses he had already voiced earlier that the goals of the “SVO” were to eliminate the threat from the “Kiev regime” and “protect the people living on Russian historical lands.” Once again, he called the Ukrainian government nationalist and “neo-Nazi”, as evidence of which he cited the recent assignment of the mountain infantry brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the honorary name “Edelweiss”, drawing a parallel with the Wehrmacht unit of the same name during the Second World War.
Putin said that “Russia is not at war with the Ukrainian people,” calling them “a hostage of the Kyiv regime that occupied the country.” In addition, he once again used the term “anti-Russia” in relation to today’s Ukraine , which first appeared in his article “On the Unity of the Russian and Ukrainian Peoples”, published in the summer of 2021.
Overall, Putin’s statements about the war in Ukraine (and a number of subsequent statements about the economy and the expansion of the armed forces) mean that Russia is not giving up on the goal of occupying most of the country’s territory, including Kiev, and is ready to go for this goal for as long as it takes . There were no hints of a “request for talks” or “a desire to freeze the conflict according to the Korean scenario” in the speech of the Russian president.
About the economy
Perhaps more important than the “military” one was the economic bloc of Putin’s speech. Here, with undisguised pride and satisfaction, he stressed that the decline in Russia’s GDP in 2022 was only 2.1%, despite the Western sanctions imposed against it and the West’s expectations of a fall in the Russian economy by 10-25%. It is possible that it is the comparative economic stability (in Ukraine, we recall that the fall in GDP, according to the Ministry of Finance, amounted to 30.4%) is the main reason for the optimism of the Russian leadership regarding the possibility of a long-term war .
In addition, Putin mentioned a number of infrastructure projects , including transport routes to China and Kazakhstan, as well as the North-South corridor leading to Iran and providing Russian goods with access to the Indian Ocean. They, as well as the figures announced by the Russian President of 30% of Russia’s international settlements in rubles and about 50% in rubles and currencies of friendly countries as of the beginning of 2023, indicate a reorientation of the Russian economy from European markets to Asian ones . The latter, judging by the data presented, is very active.
Here, the key thesis was gloating over the oligarchs of the first wave and big businessmen who withdrew money to the West and whose accounts and property are now under arrest. Putin stressed that he had previously warned big business about such a development of events, and noted that the majority of the population of the Russian Federation does not sympathize with the oligarchs in their troubles. He also once again called on big business to invest money in Russia so as not to lose it.
For small businesses, in turn, the Russian president proposed a program of soft loans for development .
Of interest are also Putin’s words that when appointing to public office, priority will now be given to citizens who have gone through hostilities in Ukraine. In fact, the participants of the “SVO” are called the personnel reserve of the Russian state administration, which many politicians and experts in the Russian Federation have long called for.
On the suspension of participation in the START treaty
Toward the end of his almost two-hour speech, when viewers were no longer expecting to hear something important about international politics, Vladimir Putin made a number of statements regarding the global confrontation with the United States and nuclear weapons.
According to him, in view of the goal set by the United States and NATO to ensure the strategic defeat of the Russian Federation, Moscow is suspending its participation in the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty , which regulates the deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe. At the same time, Putin said that a week ago he had already signed a decree on putting new ground-based strategic missile systems on combat duty.
He also noted that the Russian Federation “is well aware of the discussion in the United States of plans to resume nuclear testing and develop new types of nuclear weapons” and said that the Russian Defense Ministry and Rosatom should ensure readiness for testing Russian nuclear weapons if the States do it first .
At the same time, Putin invited the United States, as well as Britain and France, which also possess nuclear weapons, to return to the START negotiations, taking into account the new realities established by the Russian side. Simply put, Russia is saturating the eastern part of the European continent with strategic nuclear weapons for the first time since the end of the Cold War in 1991. This should clearly be seen as a rate hike . However, in the context of the geopolitical confrontation between Moscow and Washington, it was expected.
Contrary to the semi-hysterical forecasts spread in the media the day before, it was foolish to expect Putin’s message today to announce the start of a new strategic offensive in Ukraine. It is not customary to announce such things publicly, and all the toughest and most important things were already said by him a year ago on the day the war began. The main motive of this speech is the readiness to wage war in Ukraine for as long as it takes to achieve Russian goals, the adaptation of the Russian economy and society to this and the acceptance of a new Cold War with the United States as an inevitable reality of the coming decades.