Sabre Rattling or a Prelude to World War 3: Putin’s State of the Nation Speech, Biden’s Rallying of the Troops, Neither Bodes Well for the People

Putin Biden
Putin, Biden

Both President Biden and Putin have made addresses today both rattled sabres

US President Joe Biden rallied NATO allies in Poland on Tuesday to stress that the United States is squarely behind Ukraine and committed to bolstering the alliance’s eastern flank. Earlier, Russia’s Vladimir Putin said Moscow would suspend its participation in the last remaining arms control treaty with Washington.

This comes as Poland’s president urges the West to step up support for Ukraine President Andrzej Duda urged leaders of Western countries to stand firm in their support for Ukraine on Tuesday saying:

“I call on all European states, NATO states, to show solidarity with Ukraine, to provide military support to Ukraine, so that they have something to fight with, do not be afraid to provide this support,” Duda said ahead of a speech by US President Joe Biden.

NATO’s Stoltenberg says concerned China will arm Russia

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg echoed US concerns on Tuesday that China may supply Russia with weapons to help it pursue its war against Ukraine.

“It is President (Vladimir) Putin who started this imperial war of conquest. It is Putin who keeps escalating the war,” Stoltenberg said.

“We are also increasingly concerned that China may be planning to provide lethal support for Russia’s war.”

Washington ‘fanning the flames’ in Ukraine – Beijing

Wang Wenbin
FILE PHOTO: Wang Wenbin during a Foreign Ministry briefing. ©  GREG BAKER / AFP

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has shot back at Washington’s accusations that Beijing is considering providing “lethal support” for Moscow in Ukraine. The diplomat said the US was in no position to tell China what to do.

“It is the US, not China, that has been pouring weapons into the battlefield,” the diplomat said at a regular press briefing on Monday. He added that, unlike Washington, Beijing had been “supporting talks for peace” since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict.

“The international community is fully aware who is calling for dialogue and striving for peace, and who is fanning the flames and stoking confrontation. We urge the US side to seriously reflect on the role it has played, do something to actually help de-escalate the situation and promote peace talks, and stop deflecting the blame and spreading disinformation.”

Josep Borrell
Josep Borrell speaks during a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, February 15, 2023 ©  AP / Jean-Francois Badias

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi asked the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, why he was so concerned with Beijing potentially giving weapons to Russia when Brussels is funnelling arms to Ukraine, Borrell told reporters.

Wang and Borrell met at the Munich Security Conference last week, after which the latter warned on Monday that any Chinese assistance to the Russian military would be considered a “red line” by the EU.

Speaking to reporters at a NATO meeting on Tuesday, Borrell said that he and Wang had a “frank conversation” in Munich.

During this conversation, Wang made it clear that “China doesn’t provide arms to countries at war,” and had no plans of providing arms to Russia. This, Wang said, “is the principle of China’s foreign policy,” according to Borrell’s recollection.

However, Borrell said that Wang asked him: “Why do you show concern for me maybe providing arms for Russia when you are providing arms for Ukraine?”

Support for Ukraine will not waiver, Biden, says in Warsaw speech

US President Joe Biden said Kyiv stood strong a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a keynote speech in Poland, a day after making a surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital.

“One year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv,” Biden said at Warsaw’s Royal Castle. “I can report: Kyiv stands strong, Kyiv stands proud, it stands tall and, most important, it stands free.”

The US president said Russia’s Vladimir Putin had underestimated both Ukraine’s resolve and the West’s steadfast support for Kyiv.

“Yes we would stand up for sovereignty and we did, yes we would stand up for democracy and we did,” he said. “Our support for Ukraine will not waiver, NATO will not be divided.”

In his speech, Biden sought to cast the war in Ukraine as part of a broader tussle between autocrats and democracy, saying Putin had underestimated Western democracies’ “iron will”.

“(Putin) thought autocrats like himself were tough and leaders of democracy were soft and then he met the iron will of America and nations everywhere that refused to accept a world governed by fear,” Biden said.

Referring to President Vladimir Putin’s speech earlier today, Biden denied the Russian leader’s claim that the US planned to attack Russia.

“The West is not plotting to attack Russia as Putin said today. Millions of Russian citizens who only want to live in peace with their neighbours are not the enemy,” Biden told the crowd gathered outside the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

Biden said Putin could end the war in Ukraine “with a single word”, by pulling Russian forces out of Ukraine.

Nothing is ever that simple.

The question then remains, what happens to the millions in the Donbas region that have been fighting a civil war in Ukraine since 2014?

More than 8,000 civilians killed since Russia invaded Ukraine, UN says

More than 8,000 civilians have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago, the UN Human Rights Office said on Tuesday.

The new toll represents a significant upward revision from the previous tally of 7,199 killed since the start of the full-scale invasion on February 24, the UN report said. Around 90 percent of the victims were killed by explosive weapons, it added.

The UN human rights mission in Ukraine, which has dozens of monitors in the country, said it expects the real toll to be “considerably higher” than the official tally since corroboration work is ongoing.

 Putin says the West seeks global confrontation with Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Western countries sought to turn the Ukraine conflict into a global confrontation with Russia, and that Russia’s existence was at stake.

“They intend to translate the local conflict into a global confrontation, we understand it this way and will react accordingly,” Putin told lawmakers.

Putin vows to press offensive in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday vowed to “systematically” press on with Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, as he gave his state of the nation address.

“Step by step, we will carefully and systematically solve the aims that face us,” Putin said ahead of the first anniversary of the military intervention.

Russia is suspending its participation in the New START treaty

Meanwhile, Putin says Russia suspending participation in the nuclear treaty. President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday Moscow’s suspension of its participation in New START, the last remaining arms control treaty between the world’s two main nuclear powers, Russia and the US.

“I have to announce that Russia is suspending its participation in the New START treaty,” Putin said in his state of the nation address. “No one should be under the illusion that global strategic parity can be violated.”

The ‘New START treaty is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. It was signed on 8 April 2010 in Prague, and, after ratification, entered into force on 5 February 2011.

The treaty limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, which is down nearly two-thirds from the original START treaty, as well as 10% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty. The total number of deployed warheads, however, could exceed the 1,550 limit by a few hundred because only one warhead is counted per bomber regardless of how many it actually carries.[10] The treaty also limits the number of deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 800.

The number of deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments is limited to 700. The treaty allows for satellite and remote monitoring, as well as 18 on-site inspections per year to verify limits.

This sounds very much like the beginning of a new arms race…

Moscow demands US withdraw ‘soldiers and equipment’ from Ukraine

Russia’s foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned US ambassador Lynne Tracy to hand her a note demanding that the US withdraw “soldiers and equipment” from Ukraine, a reference to Western military assistance for the country.

“It was noted in particular that in order to deescalate the situation, Washington should take steps to ensure the withdrawal of US-NATO soldiers and equipment and also stop its anti-Russian activities,” a statement from the ministry said.

“I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the strategic offensive arms treaty.”

The New START treaty was signed in Prague in 2010. It came into force the following year and was extended in 2021 for five more years after United States President Joe Biden took office.

It caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy, and the deployment of land and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.

Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with close to 6,000 warheads, according to experts. Together, Russia and the United States hold about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads – enough to destroy the planet many times over.

‘A watershed moment for our country’

“I am making this address at a time which we all know is a difficult, watershed moment for our country, a time of cardinal, irreversible changes around the world, the most important historic events that will shape the future of our country and our people, when each of us bears a colossal responsibility.”

Western nations trying to ‘distract people’s attention’

“They just tried to use these principles of democracy and freedom to defend their totalitarian values and they tried to distract people’s attention from corruption scandals … from economic-social problems.”

‘Responsibility is on West and Ukrainian elite’

“The responsibility is on the West and the Ukrainian elite and government, which does not serve the national interest, but [rather serves the interest] of third countries [which] use Ukraine as a military base to fight Russia.

“The more they send weapons to Ukraine, the more we will have the responsibility of the security situation at the Russian border. This is a natural response.”

‘We don’t fight the Ukrainian people’

“We don’t fight with the Ukrainian people. They became hostages of the Kyiv regime that occupied Ukraine both economically and politically. Over years, they were doing everything to bring this degradation … They are using their people, it’s sad but true

Donbas subjected to ‘undisguised hatred’

“Step by step, carefully and consistently, we will resolve the tasks facing us. Since 2014, the (people of the) Donbas had been fighting, defending their right to live on their own land, to speak their native language.

“They fought and did not give up in the conditions of blockade and constant shelling, undisguised hatred on the part of the Kyiv regime. They believed and expected that Russia would come to their rescue.

“Meanwhile, we did our best to solve this problem by peaceful means. We patiently tried to negotiate a peaceful way out of this most difficult conflict, but a completely different scenario was being prepared behind our backs.”

‘Reviving enterprises and jobs’ in occupied Ukrainian lands

“We have already begun and will continue to build up a large-scale programme for the socioeconomic recovery and development of these new subjects of the federation (territory annexed from Ukraine). We are talking about reviving enterprises and jobs in the ports of the Sea of Azov, which has again become an inland sea of Russia, and building new modern roads, as we did in Crimea.”

‘I understand how unbearably hard it is’ for families of killed soldiers

Putin said he understood how difficult it was for relatives of Russian soldiers who had died fighting in Ukraine, and promised “targeted support” with a new special fund.

“We all understand, I understand how unbearably hard it is now for the wives, sons, daughters of fallen soldiers, their parents, who raised worthy defenders of the Fatherland.”

‘Child abuse all the way up to paedophilia … advertised as the norm’ in the West

“They distort historical facts and constantly attack our culture, the Russian Orthodox Church, and other traditional religions of our country,” Putin said of Western nations supporting Ukraine.

“Look at what they do with their own peoples: the destruction of the family, cultural and national identity, perversion and the abuse of children are declared the norm. And priests are forced to bless same-sex marriages.

“As it became known, the Anglican Church plans to consider the idea of a gender-neutral God … Millions of people in the West understand they are being led to a real spiritual catastrophe.”

“Look at what they do to their own people: the destruction of families, of cultural and national identities and the perversion that is child abuse all the way up to paedophilia, are advertised as the norm … and priests are forced to bless same-sex marriages.”

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