Faced with sharp setbacks at the front, where Ukrainian forces turned the tables on the occupying Russian army, and following his decree on partial mobilization, Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country will keep fighting for its “freedom” and “independence.”
At a gala concert marking the 1160th anniversary of Russian statehood on Wednesday, President Putin said Russia is fighting for its independence and sovereignty.
“We will fight for our fatherland, for our motherland, the only one we have, for our freedom, independence and sovereignty, for our culture and traditions. We will defend and protect them on behalf of our ancestors and our descendants, for the sake of Russia, its great history and great future,” Putin said.
Putin’s words are significant as they come at a time when Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine plan to hold referendums in four eastern regions of the country currently under occupation, paving the way for a formal Russian annexation.
The Russian leader’s reference to culture and tradition is also important given the strength of pro-Russian sentiments in eastern regions like Donetsk and Luhansk, which Russia recognized as independent states just before its February 24 invasion. In addition to these two regions, Kherson and Zaporizhia have also announced that they will hold their own polls.
If the referendums take place and Russia declares these areas its own, it would mean a change in Russia’s perspective on the war – one in which Ukraine and the West fight Russia itself.
Putin seems to have set the stage for such a confrontation during his televised address announcing the partial mobilization. The Russian leader accused the West of pressuring Kyiv to shift military action to Russian territory, adding: “They are talking about how all available means should be used to destroy Russia.”
Commenting on a veiled nuclear threat, the Russian President said: “To those who dare to make such statements about Russia, I would like to remind you that our country has different ones [weapons] more advanced in destruction than the NATO countries.”
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff,” Putin warned.
Importantly, Russia has warned the US against sending long-range missiles to Kyiv, arguing that US-made ground-launched missiles capable of hitting targets on Russian territory are based on the Intermediate-Range Missile Treaty. However, Ukrainian General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi recently acknowledged for the first time that Ukraine was responsible for a series of attacks on Russian air bases in Russia-annexed Crimea, prompting fears that Russia might resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, in New York, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Kyiv and Western countries of interfering with efforts to resolve the situation in Ukraine through political and diplomatic means.
At a meeting with Swiss President Ignazio Cassis on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the Russian Foreign Minister also criticized Switzerland for deviating from the principle of neutrality and supporting the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions.
Despite Putin’s claims that Russia has nothing to lose by its military engagement in Ukraine, the conflict has shown the limits of Russia’s military strength.
https://www.ibtimes.com.au/putin-plays-culture-card-again-invoking-russias-great-tradition-vows-fight-sovereignty-1838629?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution Putin is again playing the culture card, invoking Russia’s rich tradition and vowing to fight for sovereignty