eIt was the longest speech by Vladimir Putin since the morning of February 24, when the Russian president announced his “special military operation” in Ukraine. The most important result of the appearance, which lasted nearly 37 minutes at the beginning of a session that was supposed to clarify “social and economic” issues on Wednesday afternoon, was the escalation of the campaign against internal Russian critics.
Putin used the words “fifth column” and “patriotic traitor” against them, as he did in his speech on the annexation of Crimea eight years ago. At the time, the phrase “national traitor” was not acceptable to members of the opposition; Probably because it comes from Hitler’s struggles. But in the current tension, Putin’s words sound like orders to his apparatus. Criminal proceedings are piling up, the doors of opponents’ apartments are smeared, and the powerful United Russia party is demanding first steps against “national treason.”
At first, Putin tried to remind his officials, contacted by video link, and the state television audience of various justifications for the “special military operation”. He claimed again that a “real genocide” had taken place in the Donbass in the past eight years. They can no longer bear it.
Putin blames others
However, the Russian newspaper Kommersant has just reported “official” information from the “people’s republics” in Donbass, which does not support Putin’s thesis: the number of civilian casualties there in recent years has been lower than at any time since the beginning of the Russian conflict over the territories in eastern Ukraine, which began in 2014. The Donetsk entity reported nine civilian deaths in 2019 and five in 2020, according to Kommersant, while the Luhansk entity reported two civilian deaths in 2020 and one in 2021. Putin claimed that Kyiv was preparing for a “purge” Ethnic in Donbass” also confirmed other motives: “the pro-Nazi regime in Kyiv” sought to obtain “its own nuclear weapon” and secretly developed “biological weapons” with the support of the US Department of Defense.
In the 1990s, Ukraine handed over the remaining Soviet nuclear weapons on its territory to Russia in exchange for guarantees of sovereignty; The cooperation of various Ukrainian laboratories with America was official, and, according to Kiev and Washington, it was purely civilian cooperation. “We were simply forced to start the special military operation,” Putin said. Putin said the “tactics” developed by the Defense Ministry and the General Staff “have paid off completely,” praising the “courage and heroism” of Russian soldiers who would do “anything” to avoid civilian casualties. “The operation is progressing successfully, in strict accordance with previously confirmed plans.” So far, the Russian Defense Ministry has only reported its casualty numbers once, on March 2, and then given the number 498. Kyiv assumes more than 12,000 Russian soldiers were killed, and Washington more than 7,000.
Over the past few days, cautious optimism has been expressed in Kyiv about negotiations with Moscow. But Putin has now spoken of a “final solution” to eliminate threats to the “people’s republics” and to Russia. One is ready to talk about Russia’s “basic questions about Ukraine’s neutral status, disarmament and disarmament” in the negotiations. That “people are dying, hundreds of thousands and millions have become refugees, and a real humanitarian catastrophe is occurring in the cities inhabited by neo-Nazis and armed criminals released from prisons,” Putin blamed exclusively on the “Kyiv regime” and the West. According to the Russian version, its soldiers are “liberators” and civilian losses can be attributed only to the Ukrainian “Nazis”.