Russian President Vladimir Putin took aim at the United States during his annual state of the nation address to the Russian people and Federal Assembly on Tuesday, repeatedly claiming of the West, "They started the war."
Ahead of Friday's one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Putin claimed that the Ukrainian people have been "hostages of their Western masters," and by doing so, continues to portray the conflict as Russia defending itself against the West and its proxies in Kyiv, rather than Ukraine defending its sovereignty from its eastern neighbor and historical overlord.
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As he often does in his speeches, Putin evoked defining historical moments to defend his country's decisions, comparing the West allowing Nazi Germany to rise in the 1930s with the West now using anyone, "Nazis, terrorists, even the devil himself" in order to fight Russia.
Watch live: President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Russian people ahead of the first-year anniversary of the Ukraine war https://t.co/X3flQUCiPZ https://t.co/dLxukRy37r— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 21, 2023
Putin contrasted the values of Russia with those he believes are burgeoning in the United States, mentioning pedophilia, among other things, that show the "degradation" of the West.
President Joe Biden visited Kyiv on Monday to unveil a new aid package and meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Though a top U.S. official said the White House announced Biden's visit to Russia beforehand, many in Moscow saw the move as an upstaging of Putin the day before his annual address.
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The decision of the U.S. president, now in Poland, to visit Kyiv shows the relative stability and security of the capital and could be seen as a kind of mockery of Russia and Putin, who surely hoped to take control of the region months ago.