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Nuclear destruction, the war’s popularity, and boosting birth rates Vladimir Putin’s 2024 state-of-the-nation address, in brief

Source: Meduza
Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Scanpix / LETA

On February 29, Vladimir Putin gave his 19th annual address to Russia’s Federal Assembly. While presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said before the event that Putin would be speaking “both as a head of state and as a candidate” for the country’s upcoming election, the address differed little from Putin’s other recent speeches, although it did contain new variations of the threats against the West that have become routine for him in recent years. Meduza shares a brief summary of the address in English.

In a speech to Russia’s Federal Assembly on Thursday, Vladimir Putin repeated his longtime claims that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is a defensive war against an aggressive West, threatening to launch retaliatory strikes against Western countries if they attack “Russian territory.”

At the beginning of the two-hour address, Putin insisted that an “absolute majority” of Russians has supported the war in Ukraine from the start and continues to support it. “Despite all of the trials, the bitterness of the losses, people remain steadfast in this choice. They confirm this constantly with their desire to do as much as they can for their country and for the common good,” he said.

Addressing reports from European leaders that they discussed the prospect of sending troops to Ukraine at a summit this week, Putin reminded his audience of “the fate of those who once sent their forces to the territory of our country.” This time, he said, “the consequences for possible interventionists will be much more tragic: they must realize that we too have weapons that can hit targets on their territory.”

He continued:

All of the things they’re coming up with right now, all the ways they’re scaring the entire world, all of this carries the real threat of a conflict involving the use of nuclear weapons, which would mean the destruction of civilization.

The president also called for Russia to strengthen its military presence in the Western part of the country in light of Finland’s accession and Sweden’s pending accession to NATO, accusing the alliance of “dragging in” the new members.

At the same time, Putin dismissed speculation that Russia is preparing to launch an attack on European countries, calling it “nonsense.” He also denied that Moscow plans to deploy nuclear weapons in space, saying that these claims are a “hoax” meant to pressure Russia into making a deal favorable to Washington in the leadup to the U.S. presidential elections.

Most of Putin’s speech, however, was dedicated to various domestic initiatives that he said would combat poverty, boost Russia’s birth rate, improve education, and provide support for veterans. Under a new project called “Family,” for example, he said Russia’s federal government will allocate “no less than 75 billion rubles” ($825 million) to family support programs in regions with below-average birth rates. He also said the country’s minimum wage is set to nearly double, reaching 35,000 rubles ($385) per month, by 2030.

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