Putin's state of the nation address: nothing new?

In his state of the nation address on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin once again blamed the West for the ongoing war in Ukraine. He said that because the West has systematically undermined Russia's peace efforts the offensive in Ukraine will continue, and that defeating Russia either militarily or economically would be impossible.

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Jutarnji list (HR) /

Bridges to Europe burned

With this speech Putin broke off all ties with Europe, says Jutarnji list:

“He lowered the curtain vis-à-vis Europe and isolated Russia from European values. He displayed fear, frustration and a complex regarding Europe's culture and society, which Russians and Russia have done much to enrich and complement. Putin burned all the bridges and turned Russia into an outlaw that renounces its own identity-forming roots. ... Putin has sent this message to the Russians: Forget Europe, there is nothing for you there but decadence, destruction and ruin. And he called the Russians who have left for the West traitors and 'European lackeys'.”

Tageblatt (LU) /

Making death an ideology

The speech testifies to Putin's willingness to go to extremes, Moscow correspondent Inna Hartwich comments in Tageblatt:

“It is the struggle of an obsessive. One who does not reach out his hand for peace but sees his 'truth' in 'victory' against the West. To achieve this he is restructuring his country, all in the name of war. ... These are crude convictions in which millions of Russians believe and for the sake of which millions of Russian men bring death and destruction to a foreign land. ... The Kremlin has made death for the fatherland its ideology. It will not let go of it. Putin's speech is confirmation that this will be a long war.”

La Croix (FR) /

Crude propaganda

Putin is again demonising his enemy in a bid to disguise his dire position, La Croix observes:

“The Russian president is still mired in the delirious obsessions that served him as a pretext for starting the war: the 'neo-Nazi' Ukraine, the 'decadent' West, the paedophilia that has become 'the norm' in Europe. ... He presents himself as a champion of imaginary traditional values. ... There is indeed a civilisational background to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict but the frontline is not between progressivism and conservatism, but between democracies and authoritarian regimes. Everything else is crude propaganda. It is a convenient way of concealing Putin's lack of strategy.”

NV (UA) /

De-Putinise Russia

Diplomat Konstantin Eliseyev warns in NV that Putin cannot be trusted when he says that it is up to the West to make peace with Russia:

“This idea is likely to attract many 'useful idiots' who will promote the idea of a so-called ceasefire and stress the need for peace talks with Russia. A tactical pause is important for Moscow to gather forces to continue the war. ... Putin has proven once again that the expectations of some Western leaders that a just peace can be achieved with his regime are unfounded, and therefore that the best path to peace is to defeat and de-Putinise Russia and to hold the regime accountable at the international level.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Stand firm together

For Le Soir, the speech underlines how vital and justified uncompromising support for Kyiv really is:

“The only positive aspect of this abominable and bitter speech is that it reaffirms the strong bond between the West and Ukraine in the fight against Putin and his henchmen.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Like a broken record

Putin basically didn't say anything new, Jutarnji list notes:

“For days the Russian media have been creating suspense and a dramatic atmosphere and describing the speech as 'historic', like a papal Urbi et Orbi. 'The president will address not only Russians but the whole world,' Ria Novosti agency announced. ... But although the speech lasted almost two hours, Putin basically said nothing new or unexpected. He was, as expected, severe and harsh vis-à-vis the West, Russia's main and arch enemy.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

War as the new normal

With Putin's address, the situation in his country has become the new normal, Russia-based journalist Maxim Kireev writes on Zeit Online:

“War has long since become the basic tenor of today's Russia. In the president's mind, as his speech makes clear, things can stay that way. In this world view there is no need for an extraordinary national effort to end the war as quickly as possible. ... Putin promised new jobs, better education and opportunities for advancement. Fittingly, he called on the country's super-rich to invest domestically. ... In Putin's dreamworld this new normality is possible even without a victory in Ukraine, which is clearly becoming unattainable.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

No prospect of dialogue

Corriere della Sera takes a dim view of the situation:

“What happened yesterday, 21 February 2023, in the Kyiv-Warsaw-Moscow triangle, the new epicentre of Europe's fate, was certainly what Stefan Zweig defined as a 'decisive moment'. ... For the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall, an irreconcilable antagonism has solidified between the two camps into which Russia's barbaric war of aggression against Ukraine has again divided the continent. On the one hand the democratic countries under US leadership, fighting for the freedom and the right of self-determination of every people. And on the other neo-imperialist Russia, whose autocrat is calling for a long conflict that has become existential, closing every remaining channel of communication and raising the drawbridge against any influence from the hostile and degenerate West.”