Dozens of Russian lawmakers, military officials, and veterans gathered in Moscow on Tuesday to listen to President Vladimir Putin deliver his first speech to the country’s parliament since the beginning of his full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year
But some members of the audience appeared to dose off as the Russian leader, having nothing new to say, resorted to mumbling the same claims about “Nazis” and the West that he has repeatedly used to try and justify his war.
From Murder Pigeons to ‘Evil’ Forces: How Putin Sold His War
Apparently in an attempt to up the ante, however, he offered a new twist on the Kremlin’s tired claim that Moscow “isn’t at war with the people of Ukraine.”
Instead, he suggested, the battle next door against “neo-Nazis” in the “Kyiv regime” is also an attempt to protect Russia from rampant pedophilia and gender-neutral pronouns.
“Look at what they are doing in the West… They distort historical facts, do not stop their attacks on Russian culture, on the Russian Orthodox Church,” Putin said. “The West is perverting the family, the national identity. They are making pedophilia the norm in their lives, and priests encourage same-sex marriage. Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”
“The Anglican Church is planning—so far only planning—to look into the idea of a gender-neutral God. What do you say to that?” Putin said.
“We are obliged to protect our children from degradation and degeneracy,” he declared.
Of the “collective West,” he said: “It’s they who started the war. We have used and are using force to stop it.”
In one of the more notable moments in the nearly two-hour speech, Putin announced that Russia will no longer allow NATO countries to inspect its nuclear arsenal, as Moscow is “suspending” its participation in the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the US, the New START nuclear nonproliferation agreement.
“Our relations have degraded and that’s completely and utterly the US’s fault,” he said.
Putin also took aim at his own citizens who took a stand against the war or fled the country. “We will not settle scores with those who have abandoned their homeland,” he said of Russia’s “national traitors.”
“Let that remain on their conscience. Let them live with that. The main thing is that citizens of Russia give them a moral assessment,” he said, before the audience erupted into applause as he insisted the entire country supports his so-called “special military operation.”
As for the war itself, almost a year after the Kremlin’s plan to take the Ukrainian capital in a matter of days failed spectacularly, Putin insisted yet again that victory is just around the corner.
“It’s impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield,” he said, claiming the very “existence” of Russia is at stake.
He also offered a special shout-out to the tens of thousands of men called up and killed in his war, along with the families they left behind.
“We all understand how hard it is right now for the relatives of fallen troops. Russia remembers them, and it is our duty to support these families. The family of each participant of the special military operation should be at the center of attention, surrounded by care and honor,” he said, proposing the creation of a special government fund to support them.
The Russian leader went on to call for a moment of silence for the thousands of young men he summoned to die for him on the battlefield with his “partial mobilization” order last fall.
“I ask you to honor the memory of our comrades who gave their lives for Russia, the civilians, the elderly, women and children who died under shelling at the hands of neo-Nazis and punishers,” he said.
“Russia will respond to all challenges, because we are one country, one big, united nation, confident in our abilities. The truth is with us,” he said in closing.
The Russian president’s speech did not go over well with some of the “patriotic” military bloggers the Kremlin has sought to use to bolster support.
“‘We will do everything for victory!’ – Vladimir Putin. Great, give Wagner ammunition,” wrote one Telegram channel connected to the mercenary unit Rusich.
Several other channels connected to the Wagner mercenary group ignored the speech completely.
“Blah blah blah, there’s no point listening further,” wrote Igor Strelkov, the former commander of Kremlin-backed troops in Donetsk.
“Again the lying West deceived us. (Just a little bit more and we’ll stop trusting them),” another pro-war channel quipped.
Russian state-run media, meanwhile, did its best to prop up the redundant speech, with RIA Novosti gushing that “the audience applauded 53 times” during Putin’s address and the “whole world” watched.
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