Putin's address to the nation: what he didn't say

In view of the situation in Ukraine, but also Russia's political disputes with the EU and the US, there was much excitement about what Vladimir Putin would say in his annual state-of-the-nation address. However, no drastic decisions were announced; the main focus was on social and economic measures. Commentators have very different explanations for this.

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Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Fortunately a real bore

For once, Echo of Moscow is glad that Putin's speech was lacking in substance:

“He was expected to say that Russia would swallow up Belarus - it's not for nothing that Lukashenka is now coming to us. He was expected to say that Russia would recognise the [eastern Ukrainian 'people's republics'] DNR and LNR and wage war on Ukraine - it's not for nothing that the Federation Council was convened extraordinarily. And he was expected to expel diplomats from all over the world. In short, we were prepared for the worst. But the President came across as positively meek. What a relief. Even the rouble rose after his dull and empty speech.”

newsru.com (RU) /

Lots of carrot, little stick

Putin didn't talk about politics but about social benefits, political scientist Abbas Gallyamov laments in a Facebook post republished by newsru.com:

“Instead of talking about politics, about which most of the criticism levelled at the state power - or at least that of the more active part of the population - deals with, Putin discussed all manner of things, from child benefits to tourism, housing construction, the purchase of ambulances, etc. ... Since most of the problems addressed in today's speech are to be solved with additional money, it can be seen as an attempt to buy his way out of trouble. ... At least the growing protests play a positive role in this regard: if people hadn't demonstrated, there would have been more stick and much less carrot today.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Conspiracy theories instead of concrete issues

In his state of the nation address Putin focused on Russia as a victim of the West but failed to address key topics, Jutarnji list sums up:

“For example he didn't talk about [what Russian Foreign minister Lavrov described as] the 'dead' relations with Brussels or, more importantly, the tense situation with Ukraine, which almost borders on war, or about the concentration of troops on the Ukrainian border. ... The Russian president also failed to mention Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky's proposal to meet in the Donbass. He mainly spoke about the alleged conspiracy and planned liquidation of Belarusian President Lukashenka, which Russian secret services had uncovered a few days ago. ... The West always has 'Russia as a target', he said.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Anything but weakened

Putin feels encouraged to play the strong man, analyses Corriere della Sera:

“The president's approval rating is over 60 percent, and it doesn't seem to be declining despite current events. On the contrary, the increasingly bitter confrontation with the West seems to be boosting it. Yesterday the president spoke about the powerful new weapons with which the Russian army will soon be equipped. ... He promised money for almost all social sectors. ... The sanctions imposed on Russia are weak, and Biden has acknowledged the Kremlin's global role by inviting Putin to a two-way summit. This is another reason why Vladimir Vladimirovich is not scaling back the confrontation with his neighbours, from the Czech Republic to Ukraine.”