Shortly before the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine he ordered, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the West for the war.
"They started the war," Putin said in his State of the Union address today, referring to Western countries. Russia is only trying to end the fighting, the Kremlin chief claimed in his speech to the representatives of the Federal Assembly. It is composed of the State Duma and the Federation Council and met in the Gostiny Dvor event center in Moscow.
Putin once again said that a "neo-Nazi regime" was in power in Ukraine. The "special military operation" that Moscow calls the war will continue. "Step by step, carefully and consistently, we will solve the tasks ahead of us," said the 70-year-old.
Russian army to be modernized
At the same time he announced a modernization of the Russian army. "The level of equipment of Russia's nuclear deterrent forces with the latest systems is now 91.3 percent," Putin said. "Now - taking into account our accumulated experience - we need to achieve such a high level of quality in all parts of the armed forces," he added.
From the Kremlin's point of view, the war against the neighboring country has been anything but successful in recent months. International observers attest to some serious problems with the Russian army, particularly with regard to military equipment.
Putin promises reconstruction in Donbass
He promised reconstruction and jobs for the areas in Ukraine annexed by Moscow. There will also be major new programs for the development of the four "new subjects," Putin said. Factories would be rebuilt and new jobs created, he said, to applause from hundreds who rose from their seats to an ovation.
So far, however, Russia has only controlled part of the illegally annexed areas of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Cherson. Ukraine has announced that it will liberate the areas from Russian occupation. Thousands of people have already died in the fighting. With a minute's silence, Putin and the audience commemorated the war dead - shortly before the anniversary of the war he ordered.
Putin announces support for the bereaved
Putin announced further financial support for Russian veterans and the families of killed soldiers. In his speech, he instructed the government to set up a special sovereign wealth fund in cooperation with the individual regions. Social workers should take care of the families of war dead and veterans.
In addition, everyone who fought in the war, which Moscow continues to describe as a "military special operation," should be able to take a 14-day vacation every six months, Putin said.
On Friday, February 24th, it will be a year since Russia officially started the war against Ukraine. Putin's appearance was his 18th state of the nation address to date. The previous one was almost two years ago and took place in April 2021. Last year there were none; the head of the Kremlin explained this with a very high "dynamics of events".