President Putin addressing on 29 February. Source: President of Russia http://en.kremlin.ru/". - Photo: 2024

President Putin: “Don’t They Get That?”

Analysis by Somar Wijayadasa*

NEW YORK | 5 March 2024 (IDN) — Russia’s President Vladimir Putin delivered his 19th State of the Nation address, on February 29, to a large audience including members of both houses of parliament, state officials, military commanders and soldiers.

This year’s speech holds special significance as the presidential election is scheduled for March 15-17, in which President Putin is seeking another term.

His address included new goals for 2030, domestic issues on housing, taxes, pensions, Russia’s dwindling birth rate, providing high-speed internet access to almost the entire country, the war in Ukraine, Russia’s military and nuclear capabilities, and its relations with other countries.

Putin said it was crucial to strengthen Russia’s forces along the Western border in order to neutralize threats associated with the next NATO expansion to the East.

Here are the highlights of his speech.

Reinvigorating Russia

To reinvigorate Russia, Putin announced five new national projects to – reduce poverty, support families with many children, increase the dwindling birth rate, and boost Russia’s life expectancy which at 70 is currently one of the lowest in Europe.

He said that there’s a need to revise and modernize Russia’s fiscal system “to achieve a more fair distribution of the tax burden, and those who enjoy a higher personal and corporate income should be paying more”.

Putin spoke about “establishing a dedicated state fund for bringing targeted, personalized assistance to the families of fallen fighters, as well as veterans of the special military operation”.

Russia’s economy

Speaking about Russia’s economy, Putin said, “Today, Russia is the largest in Europe when it comes to GDP in terms of purchasing power parity, and the fifth in the world”. He said, “Russia could soon surpass Japan to become the fourth-largest economy in the world”.

Urging people to focus on physical activity and cut down alcohol consumption, he jokingly said: “Stop drinking and start skiing!”

Sanctions against Russia

Referring to the barrage of West’s sanctions against Russia, Putin pointed out “those who initiated the sanctions are punishing themselves: they sent prices soaring in their own countries, destroyed jobs, forced companies to close, and caused an energy crisis, while telling their people that the Russians were to blame for all of this”.

Putin spelled out the mechanisms they used—means such as “disrupting economic ties with Russian companies and depriving the financial system of its communication channels to shutter our economy, isolate us from export markets and thus undermine our revenues. They also stole our foreign exchange reserves and tried to depreciate the ruble and drive inflation to destructive heights”.

Saying that we have everything we need to both ensure our security and create conditions for progress in our country, Putin said that he already put into service over 100 million square meters of housing; the country recorded double-digit growth rates in agricultural production; and that the infrastructure in all areas are booming.

Ukraine war and Russia’s military potential

With regard to the War in Ukraine, Putin said that the entire economy, which provides the industrial and technological foundation for our victory has shown flexibility and resilience. He said that the  Russian industries are working round the clock in three shifts to roll out as many products as the battlefront needs.

Speaking about Russia’s military potential, Putin assured that the hypersonic weapons such as Sarmat, Kinzhal and Zircon that he promised six years ago are being mass-produced, and Russia’s strategic nuclear forces are now equipped with the latest hypersonic technology and is on full alert for their guaranteed deployment.

“The hypersonic sea-based complex Zircon has also already been used in battle. The hypersonic units of the intercontinental range Avangard (and) the laser systems Peresvet are on combat duty. The tests of the Burevestnik unlimited-range cruise missile are being finalized. And the unmanned underwater vehicle Poseidon… The first mass-produced Sarmat heavy ballistic missiles have been delivered to the troops”

External relations

Speaking about Russia’s external relations with other countries, Putin said that Moscow maintains good relations with the Arab world and will continue to improve them, while dialogue with ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) is also developing “positively” and the Russia-Africa Summit last year served as “a real breakthrough”.

The BRICS countries, Putin said, are overtaking the G7 in terms of global GDP share in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, and according to estimates, its share will increase to 36.6% by 2028, while that of the G7 will decrease to 27.8%.

“The African continent declares its interests, the right to genuine sovereignty louder and louder. We sincerely support their aspirations,” he stressed.

Strategic stability

Putin said, “Russia is ready for dialogue with the US on issues of strategic stability” but stressed “We are dealing with a state whose ruling elites are openly taking hostile actions against us. Do they seriously intend to discuss strategic stability with us while simultaneously trying to inflict ‘strategic defeat on the battlefield’, as they put it themselves, on Russia?”

The so-called West, Putin said, with its colonial practices and penchant for inciting ethnic conflicts around the world, not only seeks to impede our progress but also envisions a Russia that is a dependent, declining, and dying space where they can do as they please. In fact, they want to replicate in Russia what they have done in numerous other countries.

President Putin stated that Russia has proven that it is capable of solving the most difficult problems and challenges, has been able to repel “the aggression of international terrorism” and preserve national unity.

He described Washington’s diplomatic stance as “hypocritical” and just a means to deliver outcomes that “are beneficial only to the US” and said that any discussions about global security and stability can only be held if Russia’s national interests and security are taken into account.

“Some kind of nonsense”

Putin accused the US of “hypocrisy” over recent “unfounded accusations” by the US and its allies that “Russia could launch an attack on Europe”.

“The West provoked conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East, and other regions of the world and continues to lie. Now, without any embarrassment, they declare that Russia allegedly intends to attack Europe,” Putin said, it is “some kind of nonsense.”

He added that the US and its satellites have effectively “dismantled the European security system” and are now trying to scare the world with threats of a nuclear conflict that would end human civilization.

Referring to another such accusation that “Russia plans to deploy strategic nuclear weapons in space”, Putin said those stories were “misinformation” aimed at involving Russia in negotiations on US terms.

He noted that Russia offered the US a draft treaty on preventing the deployment of nuclear weapons in space back in 2008 but pointed out that Washington has blocked the proposal ever since.

Referring to French President Emmanuel Macron’s ridiculous claim that some NATO members could deploy troops in Ukraine, Putin responded by saying that such a move would make a direct war with the US-led military bloc “inevitable”.

Putin assured, “We also have weapons that can hit targets on their territory. All this really threatens a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons and the destruction of civilization”.  Putin quipped, “Don’t they get that?”

Moving forward, the president stressed that Russia will continue to defend its freedom, preserve its history and traditions, further develop its democratic institutions and protect its sovereignty, not allowing anyone to interfere in its internal affairs.

*Somar Wijayadasa, a Moscow-educated international lawyer, was a Faculty Member of the University of Sri Lanka, worked in UN organizations (IAEA & FAO), was a Delegate of UNESCO to the UN General Assembly, and Representative of UNAIDS at the United Nations in New York. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo source: http://en.kremlin.ru/

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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