President Vladimir Putin’s Speech: Russia Has the Right to Be Strong

Yoselina Guevara L.

I would like to thank you for this responsible, firm position and recall the words of Pyotr Stolypin, a patriot and a proponent of a strong Russian state. He said this in the State Duma over a hundred years ago, but it is still consonant with our times. He said: “In the cause of defending Russia, all of us must unite and coordinate our efforts, our commitements and our rights for supporting one historical supreme right – the right of Russia to be strong.”

– President Putin, Presidential Address to the  Federal Assembly

This was one of the most forceful phrases pronounced by the Russian president, quoting Pyotr Stolypin,in his speech this Tuesday, February 21, before the State Duma and the Federation Council, the two chambers of the Federal Assembly (Russian Parliament). During his speech he made important announcements, the most worrying of which, especially for the Americans, was the unilateral suspension of the Russian-US New Start agreement on nuclear weapons. But he also stressed the causes and motivations of the Russian military operation in Ukraine and the economic issue.

Nuclear terror

Moscow’s momentary withdrawal from the New Start treaty, already feared by Washington in recent months, means that Western inspectors will not be able to access Russian facilities for random checks. President Putin explained that the suspension of the agreement is due to an obvious reason, the possibility that through the inspections of Russian nuclear sites by Western agents, sensitive information could be leaked, which would be useful to the Ukrainians to enable them to launch large-scale and highly dangerous attacks on the Russian Federation. The New Start, signed by the two powers in 2010 and renewed in 2021, provides for a series of limitations and mutual controls on the proliferation of atomic technologies.

Being outside the New Start Treaty gives Moscow the possibility to carry out real, not simulated, nuclear tests, which would allow them to continue developing their hypersonic missiles faster. In this regard, President Putin made it clear that Russia “must be prepared to conduct nuclear tests if the United States conducts them first.”

Washington lags behind Moscow and Beijing in hypersonic weaponry, which is admitted even by the U.S. military. Possibly the United States was trying to gain time to negotiate a new nuclear treaty with the Russian Federation, but this decision from the Kremlin surely took them by surprise and puts them against the wall in the nuclear arms race.

Let us not forget that Russia is the world’s leading nuclear power with 6,375 nuclear weapons, according to precise estimates by Stockholm International Peace Research, while the United States possesses 5,800. The Kremlin informed that they will continue to respect the ceilings on nuclear weapons imposed in the treaty, as well as stating that the suspension of New Start’s participation may be reversible. However, it is important that the last bilateral treaty linking Moscow and Washington is temporarily terminated, which also seems to suspend the period of mutual atomic arms control that began half a century ago.

Neo-Nazi threat, genocide in Donbas

President Putin in his speech noted “a year ago a decision was made to protect the population of our historical lands, ensure the security of our country and eliminate the threat of the neo-Nazi regime in Kiev”, stressing that Moscow “will know how to solve its tasks step by step, carefully and consistently”.

President Putin stressed the fact that the conflict did not start in 2022, on the contrary what was being committed in the Donbas region since 2014 was a genocide against the mostly Russian-speaking population, historically and culturally linked to the Russian Federation. By January 2022 the figures in the Donbas, ratified by the UN, were 14,000 people killed mostly by shelling and the use of heavy artillery by the Ukrainian army, 30,000 wounded, 1.4 million displaced and 3.4 million people in need of humanitarian aid. All this was happening under the indolent eyes of the current Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky, who, as President Putin pointed out in his speech, before the Russian special military operation called not only for Kiev’s membership in NATO, but also for the revision of Ukraine’s renunciation of nuclear weapons. These statements were made by the Ukrainian leader at the Munich Security Conference on February 19, 2022.

President Putin stressed that Russia had so far done “everything possible to resolve the Ukrainian crisis peacefully, but a completely different scenario was being prepared behind it”. He also denounced that “Western promises to seek peace in the Donbas turned into a cruel falsification and lie”. Adding that “during all this time when the Donbas was burning, when blood was being shed, when Russia was sincerely seeking a peaceful solution, people’s lives were being gambled with.”

Global Conflict, destroy Russia

Likewise, the Russian premier warned that the West intends to turn the Ukrainian conflict into a global confrontation: “we have realized it and we will respond appropriately”. In reference to this, it is evident that Zelensky’s entire communicational narrative in important world spaces is directed towards this objective. This aspect we had pointed out in a previous article. President Putin asserted that Russia’s purpose in the world arena is to defend its homeland, while the West seeks only total international domination: “we protect our home, while the goal of the West is unlimited power”.

The West’s confrontation against Russia is now becoming quite clear, but what is driving them is an economic goal: to break the possibility of the union, the commercial integration of Europe with Asia, in which the Federation is an important link. When President Putin points out that the West wants to destroy Russia, he is not making a prediction; in fact statements and actions of some Western leaders point to that aim. For example the statements of the French Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire after the start of the Russian operation in Ukraine exemplify the spirit of a part of the Western governmental elite with regard to the Russian Federation: “we will sink Russia” “it will be Russia to suffer, not Europe”.

Inefficient sanctions, economic openness

On the economic issue President Putin noted that the West has deployed not only a military but also an economic front against Russia. However, “they have not and will not achieve anything”, while their own sanctions have led to price hikes and other problems in Western countries, for which they try to blame the Russians. These assertions are absolutely true, the United States is leading Europe to suicide and to economic and financial dependence on Washington. For now the old continent has companies, without raw materials, but what cannot be known is whether it will really continue to maintain the manufacturing fabric after the coming hecatomb of closures and bankruptcies.

As President Putin pointed out, the Eurasian country’s economy and administration have turned out to be much stronger than expected in the West. A positive point is that the sanctions have forced Russia to think of a new economic model, not only as a country that exports raw materials, but also to project and develop itself as a productive power with an economy of exchange with the rest of the world, capable of offering technology and innovation. By virtue of which, the Russian Head of State made reference to all the infrastructure development being carried out to connect Russia with Asia and the East. Hence, the Russia-India International North-South Transport Corridor, a multimodal (sea, rail) corridor, is of particular relevance.

There is no doubt that President Putin’s message is a programmatic political document outlining the strategic directions of Russia’s development for the immediate future. For obvious reasons of space, many details of the speech escape us, but it leaves us with a reflection on the congruence and firmness of the Kremlin’s political decisions, always conceived with the security and welfare of the nation as a starting point and in defense of its legitimate right to be a “strong Russia”.

Yoselina Guevara López: social communicator, political analyst, columnist in different international media, whose work has been translated into English, Italian, Greek and Swedish. Winner of the Simón Bolívar 2022 National Journalism Award (Venezuela), special mention Opinion; Aníbal Nazoa 2021 National Journalism Award (Venezuela); I Historical Memory Contest Comandante Feliciano 2022 (El Salvador) Third place.