Before analyzing what was newsworthy in Vladimir Putin’s annual address to Russia’s bicameral legislature yesterday, I wish to devote some attention first to the circumstances surrounding its transmission to the world inside and outside Russia.
In the past, the Russian leader’s State of the Nation speech was always watched closely by major Western media, but yesterday’s live coverage was extraordinary. For example, I found that BBC 1 provided live transmission of more than 1 hour 40 minutes with simultaneous translation into English.
The reason for this special attention to the speech is fairly obvious to anyone familiar with the wild speculation that circulated among Russia watchers in the West during the days leading up to 21 February.
Some Russia experts expected Putin to announce a new general mobilization, in effect acknowledging that the war is going badly, that there are heavy losses of personnel that could be compensated for only by dipping deeper into the ranks of the male population at the risk of touching off popular demonstrations against the war. Other Russia critics thought Putin might use the occasion to make a formal declaration of war on Ukraine, which would have the effect of allowing dispatch to the war zone of new army recruits, who otherwise must serve only within the national frontiers. That would also be proof of poor performance by the Russian military, something that the Kiev regime and Russia haters in the West could crow about.
Be that as it may, I found one peculiarity in the BBC broadcast worth noting. It could have been by accident, though I rather believe it was intentional: the single most important new element in the speech, which came in its final minutes, was blocked by the BBC, as it shifted from live transmission to analytical comments on the speech by its invited experts. The missing part of the speech happened to be the announcement by Putin of Russia’s formal suspension of Russia’s participation in the New START treaty dating from 2010 limiting intercontinental missiles and warheads. Thus, when the news of this suspension was later published by the BBC and by other major electronic and print media, the general audience had not heard Putin’s very clear message of the reasons for this decision. This is typical of the way that Western media tell us what the Russians are doing but do not provide the Russians’ own explanations for their actions, thereby opening the way for all kinds of malicious interpretations by talking heads in London and Washington. I will get to all this later in my analysis of the respective part of the speech.
At the same time that the BBC and other Western broadcasters generously opened their airwaves to the Russian president something occurred on the side of Russian broadcasting which I would characterize as a massive cyber attack on the www.smotrim.ru website rendering it impossible for the Kremlin to use their own state television channels to bring Putin’s speech to the world live. I remind readers that more than eight months ago Russia’s television channels were expelled from the Western owned satellites which had been carrying them along with hundreds of other channels from dozens of countries. This made the internet the sole platform for the Russian state channels to reach international audiences. Now this platform was wrecked just as President Putin was about to deliver his speech.
For twenty-four hours following the speech smotrim.ru remained an empty frame which was not carrying any content whether live emissions or video streaming. At present the site is entirely inaccessible, not just here in Belgium, but, as I see from comments posted on a dedicated website called outagedown.com, also inaccessible to viewers in the United States and around the world. How long it will take Russian technicians to put the website back in order remains to be seen.
To be sure, other Russian websites, such as the newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta did carry the presidential address live but broadcast quality was very low, with pauses every minute or two to restore the data bandwidth.
It does not take too much imagination to understand that the damage to the main platform of Russian state television broadcasting, smotrim.ru, was the work of a state actor and not just some malicious prankster. This was not denial of access, but something more fundamental that occurred. And by the way, it bears mention that smotrim.ru is a mainstay of Russian television not only to global audiences but also domestically, because deprivation of the use of commercial Western owned satellites also impacted on reception of these channels for free by satellite dishes atop rural houses across Russia itself. To be sure, those living in Russian cities would have seen the speech without difficulties using the cable television services that reach every apartment building.
The Russian government has said nothing about the cyber attack on its communications platform. It probably is too great an embarrassment.
Due to the outage at smotrim.ru, my plans to include here not only analysis of the speech by Putin but also observations on how the speech was received by Russian elites as demonstrated by panelists on the leading political shows are presently not realizable.
In keeping with the structure of his speeches in past years, Putin’s address yesterday opened with a short segment devoted to international affairs and then re-directed attention almost exclusively to the domestic issues of greatest interest to every household in Russia and also to the business community.
Unsurprisingly, the introductory foreign affairs segment focused on the Special Military Operation in Ukraine.
In the West, President Putin’s remarks on his decision to intervene militarily in Ukraine are only sketchily summarized in the reporting I saw on major media yesterday so as to be a caricature, all the more easily dismissed out of hand. The actual remarks of the President are a well constructed argument that goes directly to the point of the supposedly ‘unprovoked’ nature of Russia’s invasion, that so many of the country’s detractors label an act of aggression.
One year ago, for the sake of defending the people living on our historical lands, to ensure the safety of our country, to liquidate the threat which emanated from the neo-Nazi regime that formed in Ukraine after the coup d’état of 2014, the decision was taken to carry out a special military operation. And we, step by step, with great care will solve the tasks before us.
Beginning in 2014, the Donbas was fighting, defending its right to live on its own land, to speak its native language. They fought and did not submit under conditions of a blockade and constant shelling, of open hatred from the side of the Kiev regime. They believed and waited for Russia to come to their aid.
Moreover, as you well know, we did everything possible, truly everything possible to solve this problem by peaceful means. We patiently conducted negotiations for a peaceful outcome of this most difficult conflict.
To be sure, we have heard repeatedly from the Kremlin over the past year that its motivation was to put an end to the violence being perpetrated against fellow Russians living across the border in Donbas. But yesterday Putin put the situation in the broader context of Western complicity with Kiev in using the Minsk Agreements not to resolve amicably the status of the rebel provinces but instead to buy time and arm Ukraine to the teeth for the purpose of storming the Donbas and taking the fight to Russia. For this he had all the evidence he required from the public statements of the past month by former Ukrainian President Piotr Poroshenko, then by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and finally by French President Francois Hollande, that is to say, from all the heads of state with whom Russia was dealing as from 2014 for implementation of the Minsk accords.
I further quote from Putin’s address:
And I want especially to emphasize that even before the start of the special military operation there were negotiations between Kiev and the West for supply to Ukraine of air defense systems and fighter jets and other heavily armaments. We recall the efforts of the Kiev regime to receive nuclear weapons; they spoke about this openly.
The USA and NATO hastened to roll out at the borders of our country their army bases, secret biological laboratories. In the course of maneuvers, they got to know the theater of future military action. They prepared the Kiev regime which was under their control and, through it, captive Ukraine for a big war.
And today they admit this. They admit it publicly, openly, without any embarrassment. They literally take pride in their treachery, calling both the Minsk agreements and the ‘Normandy format’ a diplomatic show, a bluff. It turns out that all this time when Donbas was burning, when blood was flowing, when Russia sincerely – and I stress this – sincerely strived to reach a peaceful solution, they played with the lives of people, they played, essentially, as they say in certain circles, with marked cards.
I have taken your time to present these lines from the opening segment of Putin’s speech yesterday, because they bear directly on the very last part of his speech in which he announced Russia’s suspension of its participation in the New Start treaty on limitation of intercontinental nuclear missiles, a decision motivated by total lack of trust towards the cosignatory. It is precisely this feature of the East-West confrontation which takes us into new and very dangerous territory in international relations unlike anything in Cold War I. And, if I may make a small side remark, for the very same reasons, the international ramifications of US responsibility for the sabotage bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines are still to come and will put in question global trust in anything the U.S. says or does.
Putin did not leave the argument for his unleashing the Special Military Operation without pointing to the broader issue of revising the European security architecture to ensure equal treatment for all countries. At issue was the Russian demand in December 2021 that NATO halt all expansion further east and roll back its military installations to where they were at the end of the 1990s, before the accession of new members from the former Warsaw Pact and still later, from among former Soviet republics. NATO’s flat refusal to deal put an end to any illusions of a peaceful outcome in relations.
The danger grew every day. Information coming in to us left to doubt that towards February 2022 a bloody punitive action was being readied in the Donbas, where the Kiev regime back in 2014 had thrown its artillery and tanks and warplane. In 2015, they again undertook an attempt at direct attack on the Donbas, while continuing a blockade and shelling, practicing terror with respect to the civilian population. All of this, I remind you, fully contradicted the documents and resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council – but everyone pretended that nothing was happening.
I want to repeat this: they unleashed the war, whereas we used force and are using force to stop it.
Those who planned the new attack on Donetsk, on Donbas, on Lugansk, clearly understood that their next objective would be to strike the Crimea and Sevastopol, and we also knew and understood this. Now these far-reaching plots are openly talked about in Kiev – they have disclosed what we very well knew.
With this I think that Vladimir Vladimirovich overturns effectively the Western narrative of ‘an unprovoked war’ that underlies all the sanctions against Russia and the unlimited financial and military aid to Ukraine. No wonder, then, that Western media entirely ignore the specifics of Putin’s speech, do not quote him extensively, only give detached sound bites.
Putin then used the occasion to respond to all the accusations of war crimes leveled against himself personally and Russia more generally in the widely publicized Security Conference which had gathered in Munich just days earlier.
By the estimates of American experts themselves, as a result of the wars – and I want to direct attention to this: it is not we who dreamed up these numbers, the Americans themselves provide them – as a result of the wars which the United States has unleashed since 2001, nearly 900,000 people died, more than 38 million became refugees. They now want to simply erase this from the memory of mankind, to act as if nothing happened. But in the world no one forgot it and no one will forget it.
But Putin did not stop at what-about-ism. He then proceeded to explain in some detail the West’s imposition of a Russophobe government in Kiev by means of the 2014 coup. And this regime has within it neo-Nazi components such as the recently celebrated Edelweiss brigades that take their name and ideology from a division of Hitler’s army responsible for deportation of Jews, executions of prisoners of war, and punitive expeditions against civilian populations. News coverage of the Edelweiss was just last week featured on Russian state television.
He went on:
The neo-Nazis do not hide the fact of whose heirs they consider themselves to be. It is surprising that in the West none of the governments supporting them takes note of this. Why? Because they just spit on it all, if you will excuse my French. It’s all the same to them on whom to place bets in the fight against us, in the fight with Russia. The main thing is that they fight against us, against our country, and that means everyone can be of use. And as we have seen, that is how it has been: terrorists, and neo-Nazis, even if you will, a devil with horns can be used if it will carry out their will and serve as a tool against Russia….
The elites of the West do not conceal their objective: to impose – as they say directly – a ‘strategic defeat on Russia.’ What does this mean? What is that for us? It means to finish up with us once and for all; i.e., they intend to shift a local conflict into a phase of global confrontation. We understand all of this and will react to this in a corresponding way, because in this case we are talking about the existence of our country.
But they cannot ignore the fact that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the field of battle. Therefore they are carrying out against us an ever more aggressive information attack. They choose as their target, above all, our young people, the younger generations. And here again they are constantly telling lies, distorting historical facts. There is no end to their attacks on our culture, on the Russian Orthodox Church and on other traditional religious organizations of our country.
After this, Putin launched into a denunciation of Western elites that goes well beyond their proven status as liars and card cheats. He followed the script he has used in public appearances repeatedly. This is the part of his speeches that Western journalists pick out to feed the public since it allows them to present the Russian leader and his followers as so very primitive, lagging so far behind the social movements of our times, and then everyone can have a good laugh. Or can they? After all, the conservative social views of Russians have their counterparts in the USA and in Europe, even if here they are just a reviled minority.
Look at what they are doing with their own peoples: destruction of the family, cultural and national identity, perversions and bullying of children, right up to pedophilia are all declared to be the norm, the norm of their lives, while they force priests to bless single-sex marriages. God bless them! Let them do as they wish. What do I want to say? Adults have the right to live as they wish. In Russia we always had the view and in the future will continue have the view that no one encroaches on your private life, and we do not intend to do so….
May God forgive them, ‘they know not what they are doing.’
Millions of people in the West understand that they are being led to a spiritual catastrophe. The elites, it must be said directly, are simply going crazy and this, it seems, already is incurable. But these are their problems, as I already said. We are obliged to protect our children, and we are doing that: we will defend our children against degradation and degeneracy.
Putin then turned to another intended avenue of attack on Russian society and state from the West: those who would betray their Motherland. Such people always existed, he said. But standing against them is the patriotic mass of the population, which Putin thanks for their solidarity and support to Donbas.
Putin confirmed that modernization of the Russian armed forces will continue apace, but said little more. As for veterans of the Special Military Operation in Ukraine who have performed well, he promised preferential admission to military colleges and academies. They also may expect fast track advancement in the civil service at all levels of government.
Then he moved on to what constitutes the bulk of his address, the section dealing with domestic Russian issues.
This began with information on how Russia has successfully coped with the economic sanctions imposed on the country by the West. These have entirely failed to bring the country to its knees, as intended, and instead have caused great economic difficulties in the West. The West cut off Russia from the global financial system, tried to deprive Russia of access to export markets, stole Russia’s hard currency reserves abroad, sought to bring down the ruble and to trigger destructive inflation.
But the Russian economy and financial management proved more resilient than anyone had imagined. Stores remained stocked with goods. The banking system held firm
At the start of the Russian operation in Ukraine, analysts in the West had predicted a 20% fall in the nation’s GDP by year’s end. In fact, Russia ended 2022 with a mere 2.1% fall in GDP. Many economic sectors held up especially well, none better than agriculture, which had double digit growth. A record harvest of more than 150 million tons of grain was brought in, including more than 100 million tons of wheat. Whereas 10 or 15 years ago, Russia’s total grain harvest was at the level of 60 million tons, today that amount is available just for export.
Putin also noted that inflation has been falling steadily and is forecast to level out at the targeted 4 – 5% per annum by Q2. Meanwhile unemployment has fallen to a record low of 3.7% and the prospects for growing GDP in the current year are being confirmed. This will be supported by new government programs to facilitate a redirection of Russian trade to new markets by setting up respective logistical corridors. These include new long distance highways extending into Siberia and the Far East for improved access to China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. At the same time, the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur train lines will be modernized.
There will be development of ports of the Black and the Azov Seas. Particular attention is being given to a new multimodal international North-South corridor, which will expand trade possibilities with India, Iran, Pakistan and the countries of the Near East.
And there will further money spent on developing infrastructure in provincial Russia, including telecommunications and the highway network.
I will not list all the investments in housing, schooling, medical care and so forth that constitute a substantial part of the speech. Suffice it to say that he was assuring the general public that Russia can and will enjoy butter as well as guns.
And though guns are not mentioned in the speech, we may have no doubt that one factor in the strong economy and low unemployment is precisely the expansion of military production to meet the needs of the war. We know that military factories are now working around the clock on three shifts.
Putin also directed attention to potential new sources of funds to finance economic growth. He instructed legislators to pass laws facilitating the creation of special long-term investment vehicles for the general public that will enjoy state insurance against loss up to certain limits. One form of such protection would apply to voluntary pension savings. In order to direct investment into priority high growth sectors of the economy, the government will provide support to float new stocks on the domestic bourses including tax privileges for both the companies and their investors.
Putin took time to give encouragement to private business, calling it ‘the most important element of economic sovereignty.’ He asked the legislature to decriminalize various kinds of business violations and also to pass measures to hasten the end of offshore business establishments which have been aimed at removing assets and profits from Russian jurisdiction. This is an old problem, long discussed in the President’s annual addresses. But with the seizure of Russian assets abroad in the context of sanctions imposed in 2022, it is a problem that may be attacked with greater vigor and with better results now. This is not to say that there are not new locations abroad that can replace London for purposes of evading Russian law, but the attractiveness of these stratagems has taken a hit from the confiscations.
At this point, President Putin decided to make what he called a ‘little philosophical departure’ in which he reminded the audience of how the Russian economy had developed in the 1990s into a provider of primarily raw materials to the West. This was because business looked for quick profits, such as were generated by sales of oil, gas, metals, wood. There was weak interest in making long term investments in the more complex sectors of the economy. That could come only after some years when the tax system was fine-tuned and major state investments were made.
However, even as the conditions were prepared for major investment in domestic industry, Russia’s big business did not invest at home.
Technology was in the West. Cheaper sources of financing were in the West as well as more convenient markets for sales. Naturally capital flowed there. Unfortunately, instead of going to expand production, purchase equipment and technologies to create new jobs here, in Russia, the money was spent on foreign estates, yachts, elite real estate. …
And where they began to make their investments, of course, in the first stage everything went there in a large degree for the sake of consumption. And where they kept their wealth, naturally they sent their children, education was there. That was where their lives were, their future. And for the [Russian] state it was very complicated, practically impossible to track this, to prevent such a development. We were living in the paradigm of a free market.
The latest developments have shown us convincingly: the model of the West as a safe haven and refuge of capital turned out to be a mirage, a falsehood. And those who did not understand this in time, those who saw Russia only as a source of income while they planned to live basically abroad, have lost a great deal: they were simply robbed, and even legally earned assets were taken away.
With this historical aside, Putin had warmed up the audience. Now he struck:
You know, now I want to add something very important – something simple but very important: that none of the ordinary citizens of this country, believe me, have pitied those who lost their capital in foreign banks; they have not pitied those who were stripped of their yachts, their palaces abroad and so forth; and in conversations over the kitchen table people surely recall both the privatization of the ‘90s when enterprises created by the entire country were sold for nothing, and they also recall the demonstrative luxury of the so-called elites.
At this point, the speech was interrupted by a prolonged standing ovation.
Yes, Vladimir Putin had injected a strong note of populism in the address, and it no doubt helped him to reach the 80% approval ratings that pollsters recorded the next day.
Putin left Russia’s captains of industry with a choice:
…those who want to live out their days in a townhouse that is under arrest and hold onto blocked bank accounts may try to seek out a place in a seemingly attractive Western capital or resort in some other warm spot abroad. That is the right of anyone. We do not encroach on it. But it is high time to understand that for the West such people were and remain second class strangers with whom you can do whatever you want. And money, connections, purchased titles of counts, peers, mayors are absolutely of no help. They must understand: they are second class there.
But there is another choice: to remain by one’s Motherland, to work for fellow citizens, not only to open new enterprises but also to change the life around themselves – in the cities, towns, in their country. And we have a great many such entrepreneurs, such real fighters in business. They are the ones who underpin the future of domestic business. Everyone should understand that the sources of prosperity and the future must be only here, in their native country, in Russia.
And then we really will create a solid, self-sufficient economy which is not closed to the outside world but uses all of its competitive advantages. Russian capital, money which is obtained here should work for the country, for its national development. Now huge prospects are opening up in the development of infrastructure, manufacturing industry, domestic tourism, and in many other fields.
I have given the above extensive quotations to drive home the fact that Putin’s patriotism is far removed from strident nationalism. He insists that Russia remain open to the world. And he does not seek to punish anyone for choosing the wrong path and losing everything to Western predators. As Americans like to say about themselves thinking it is their own exceptional quality, Russia is a free country.
Indeed, Putin says as much in his own words:
Russia is an open country while at the same time it is a unique civilization. In saying this, there is no pretence at exclusiveness and superiority. But this civilization is our own and that is the main thing. We were given it by our ancestors and we must preserve it to be passed along to those who follow us.
We will develop cooperation with friends, with everyone who is ready for work together. We will adopt all that is best, but reckon first of all on our own potential, on the creative energy of Russian society, on our traditions and values.
In the next segment of his speech, President Putin directed attention to Russia’s educational system as an important contributor to the economic sovereignty that is one of the top goals of the government.
But while this system must be adapted to serve the needs for well trained employees in all domains, Putin stressed the role of research in the basic sciences as the guarantor of progress in the long term:
…we must give scholars and researchers great freedom for creativity. You cannot force them all into the Procrustean bed of results for tomorrow. Fundamental science lives by its own laws. And I add that how the ambitious tasks are framed and resolved – this is the most powerful stimulus for young people to enter science, to have the possibility to prove that you are a leader, that you are the best in the world. And our scientific teams have reason to be proud.
Lest one think that these words are empty rhetoric, they were followed by Putin’s specific recommendations for reforming Russia’s system of higher education and, in effect, to return it to the basic framework of the Soviet period which was very strong on content in the undergraduate years. He was addressing a question that has been debated within the Russian educational establishment for the past several years.
Beginning in the 1990s, Russian higher education was modified, taking the U.S. model of a 4-year baccalaureate. This was for the purpose of aligning Russian degrees with Western degrees and easing the entry of Russian college students into Western universities. That was heavily criticized by many Russian educators who insisted that the Soviet program of higher education with its six year undergraduate degree was superior to Western models.
In a way, the severance of ties that European and American universities had with their Russian counterpart institutions during the past year of sanctions set the basis for resolving the dispute in favor of those advocating a return to Soviet-Russian patterns. In his address, Putin put the seal of approval on this solution and instructed the legislature to work on laws to manage the change-over. This one issue surely was a topic for discussion in households across Russia after the speech.
In this same section of domestic issues, Putin touched on yet another subject that would warm hearts across the land. As part of the government’s efforts to raise the level of wellbeing of Russian families, he set the goal of a tangible growth of salaries in the country. And this will start with yet another raise in the reckoning of the legal minimum wage. This is being indexed at a rate expected to be well above the level of inflation.
This brings us to the final segment of Putin’s address which, in contrast to previous years, he turned from domestic concerns to international relations. Because what he had to say was so very important, and because what Western media have disseminated on his announcement is merely the decision he took and not the reasons he gave for making this decision, I have decided to provide below an extensive quotation.
At the beginning of February we heard the North Atlantic Alliance make a declaration setting out demands on Russia, as they expressed it, that we return to performance of the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Weapons [New START], including allowing inspections at our nuclear defense installations. I don’t know what to call this. It is a kind of theater of the absurd.
We know that the west is directly involved in the attempts of the Kiev regime to strike bases of our strategic aviation. The drones used for this purpose were equipped and modified with the help of NATO specialists. And now they even want to look over our defense installations? In present conditions of the confrontation this sounds like some kind of madness.
Meanwhile, and I direct your special attention to this – they do not allow us to carry out full-scale inspections within the framework of this treaty. Our repeated applications to inspect one or another of their facilities remain without response or are declined for formal reasons, and we cannot verify anything sensibly on the other side.
I want to emphasize the following: the USA and NATO say directly that their objective is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. And that after this, as if nothing happened, do they intend to travel around our defense facilities, including the most recent ones? A week ago, for example, I signed a Decree placing on a war footing our latest land-based strategic complexes. Do they intend to stick their noses there as well? And do they think it is all so simple, that we will just let them go there?
By entering into their collective declaration, NATO virtually applied to be a participant in the Treaty on strategic offensive weapons. We agree to this, if you please. Still more, we consider that it is high time to pose the question this way. I remind you that in NATO there is more than one nuclear power, the United States. There are also nuclear arsenals in Great Britain and in France. They are being improved, they are being developed and they are also directed against us. The latest declaration of their leaders only confirms this.
We simply cannot, and especially now we do not have the right to ignore the fact that the first Treaty on strategic offensive weapons originally was concluded between the Soviet Union and the United States in 1991 in what was in principle a very different situation: in conditions of reduced tension and strengthened mutual trust. Later our relations reached such a level that Russia and the USA declared that they no longer consider one another to be enemies. That was remarkable, all very good.
The present 2010 Treaty contains very important provisions regarding the indivisibility of security, about the direct interconnection of questions of strategic offensive and defensive weapons. All of this has been long forgotten. The United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty, as is well known and everything remained in the past. Our relations, and this is very important, degraded and this is entirely the ‘merit’ of the United States.
It is they who after the collapse of the Soviet Union began to reexamine the results of the Second World War for the sake of building a world in the American manner, in which there is only one boss, one lord. For this purpose, they began to crudely destroy all the foundations of the world order laid down after the Second World War in order to cross out the legacy of both Yalta and Potsdam. Step by step they began to reexamine the world order that had taken shape, to disassemble the system of security and arms control; they planned and implemented a whole series of wars around the entire world.
And all this, I repeat, had one goal – to smash the architecture of international relations that had been created after the Second World War. This is not just a figure of speech – it is going on both in practice and in life: after the collapse of the USSR they have been forever striving to consolidate their global domination, without reckoning on the interests of modern day Russia or of the interests of other countries as well.
Of course, the situation in the world changed after 1945. There formed and are rapidly developing new centers of development and influence. This is a natural, objective process which cannot be ignored. But it is inadmissible that the USA began to reshape the world order only for itself, exclusively in its own egoistic interests.
Now through its representatives NATO is making signals, they are essentially issuing an ultimatum: you, Russia, must fulfill everything that you agreed upon, including the Treaty on offensive weapons, unconditionally, and we will behave as it suits us. As if there were no connection between the problematics of the New START and, shall we say, the conflict in Ukraine, with the other hostile actions of the West with respect to our country, as if there were no loud statements that they want to inflict a strategic defeat on us. This is either the height of hypocrisy and cynicism, or it is the height of stupidity. But you cannot call them idiots. They are nonetheless not stupid people. They want to inflict a strategic defeat on us and stick their noses into our nuclear facilities.
In this connection, I am obliged to state today that Russia is suspending its participation in the Treaty on strategic offensive weapons. I repeat: we are not withdrawing from the Treaty, but we are precisely suspending our participation. But before we return to discussion of this question, we must understand what are the pretensions of the North Atlantic Alliance member states Great Britain and France, and we will take into account their strategic arsenals, that is the total strike potential of the Alliance.
They now have by way of their declaration essentially applied to participate in this process. Praise the Lord, yes, we have nothing against this. There is no need to try to lie to everyone once again, to present yourselves as fighters for peace and détente. We know the grit under your finger nails: we know that the shelf life for use in war conditions of separate forms of nuclear munitions of the USA is running out. And in this connection, as we know in addition, several officials in Washington are already thinking about the possibility of live tests of their nuclear weapons, reckoning that in the USA they are already developing new types of nuclear munitions. We have such information.
In this situation, the Ministry of Defense of Russia and Rosatom must ensure the readiness for testing of Russian nuclear weapons. It is understood that we will not be the first to do this, but if the USA carries out tests, then we will carry them out. No one should have any dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed.
And that is where we stand today. The State Duma has just approved a law sent to it by the President declaring the suspension of Russian participation in the New Start treaty. There is now no remaining convention limiting the nuclear arsenals of the nuclear superpowers.
The constellation of treaties that was developed starting in the 1970s was important not only for setting down numbers and kinds of systems that were permitted to the signatories. Still more important were the verification procedures which were ongoing. They involved regular meetings of high officials from both sides and served to establish some kind of mutual respect and trust. As I noted from the opening remarks of Vladimir Putin in his address, there is now zero mutual trust and the guard rails protecting us from nuclear holocaust have been removed.
© Gilbert Doctorow, 2023