Vladimir Putin warned of “global conflict” in the Third World War, issuing nuclear threats in a key speech today. The Russian president threatened to take war across borders and appeared to justify using nuclear weapons during a state of the nation address before the first anniversary of the start of the war he waged on Ukraine.
In the highly discursive speech, it took almost half an hour to utter any concrete threats. Putin lashed out at the West during a much-delayed State-of-the-Nation Address, claiming that the U.S. and its allies were trying to make a regional conflict into a global one.
He has also often justified the invasions of neighbors by accusing Western countries of menacing Russia. “They are the ones who started the war. And we are using the military force to put an end to it.”
He added: “The longer Western systems are delivered to Ukraine, the further we are forced to push back against threats from our borders.” He also used language suggesting that defeat in Ukraine would warrant use of nuclear weapons.
Keir Giles, a specialist on security issues concerning Russia, told The Mirror Putin’s threats of using nuclear weapons were subtler than we had heard before, but were nonetheless present.
Mr Giles said: “His roundabout language leaned on key phrases from Russian military doctrine to indirectly threaten nuclear consequences if Russia is defeated in Ukraine.”
Giles said the calls for a strategic defeat of Russia by the West meant that they wanted to escalate the local conflict to a global one. And this, he said, means that Russia would react accordingly, because we are talking about the survival of our state—the core criteria in Russian doctrine of when to use nuclear weapons.”
“It’s a coded message intended once again to deter Western backers from providing the essential war-winning support to Ukraine that it needs to bring the war to a conclusion.”
Andrew Roth, the Guardian’s Moscow Correspondent, said: “This is an extremely conservative speech given the stress Putin has put on his country by launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“No new ideas, no big plan, no end to war. He’s betting on stability, but it looks like stagnation.”
The crowd was seen laughing and taking selfies while waiting for their leader to start his monumental speech. Some of the dignitaries shown on Russian TV in the audience included Dmitri Medvedev, vice-chairman of Putin’s security council, Igor Sechin, powerful head of oil giant Rosneft, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Anton Siluanov, the minister of finance.
He began by saying that he was speaking to the nation at a moment “of the most significant historical events defining the future of our country and of our people” and he insisted his decision to invade one year ago was justified.
“Step by step, we are going to conduct all of our missions carefully and consistently,” he said.
“One year later, Kyiv stands,” Joe Biden declared after meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace. He jabbed his finger for emphasis on his podium, against a backdrop of three flags from each country, he continued: “And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”
Mr. Peskov also told reporters Russia has not ruled out a Putin meeting of Wang Yi, China’s most senior official in foreign policy, who is visiting the Russian capital. Mr Peskov has described Russia-China relations as “multidimensional and inherently allied.”
Meanwhile, Biden was scheduled to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda just as Mr. Putin’s address was set to begin.