Putin shelves blood-crazed bombast as he prepares Russia for a long war

In his first state-of-the-nation address since the war in Ukraine, the president made it clear to his citizens they were in for a long ride


Nationalist fervour has served Vladimir Putin well over the past 12 months.

But blood-and-soil war fever is a short-lived high. To ready your public for a long conflict, you need a more sustainable offer.  

So to mark the first year of his short, victorious war, Vladimir Putin went back to basics.

Keep fighting, he told the Russian public on Tuesday, and I’ll keep the lights on. I’ll also cut your taxes, subsidise housing, and raise the minimum wage, and fix the road network.

It was a rehearsal of a pact that has served Putin well ever since he walked into the Kremlin more than 20 years ago. And long time watchers of the Russian president will have recognised several of his favourite personas.

There was social contract Putin, promising everything from subsidised housing, tax breaks and minimum wage increases for working families, to a new social fund for care of war widows, orphans, and those wounded in battle.

There was low tax free-market Putin, promising expansive incentives for businesses to invest at home and and buying domestic IT solutions – and sanctimoniously reminding his audience to respect market forces rather than print money.

There was technocratic Putin, reeling off statistics on increases in wheat exports, road-building programmes, and health and education reform.  

The economy, he said with confident reference to half a dozen indexes and percentage points, is holding up very nicely under Western sanctions. Russian inflation may be at four per cent but in the West it is running at 20, he declared – a dubious claim on both counts.  

And there was populist Putin, taking a predictable swipe at “the chaos of the 1990s” and unnamed oligarchs who “saw Russia only as a source of income” and spent their wealth on “elite real estate in the West”.

But one Putin was absent.  

The furious, resentment-filled, cod-history spouting Putin who launched the war a year ago was taking a break.

Yes, the war loomed through everything he said. Yes, he invoked duty to Motherland and “truth”. And yes, he accused the West of seeking a “strategic defeat” on Russia (and blamed it for all the country’s ills).

But the tone was regretful and defiant rather than violent and triumphalist.

The only real nod to foreign policy was suspension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, a nuclear weapons control deal. 

That is a calculated political move designed to signal displeasure with the United States and the West in general. It is bad news, but hardly radical.

Not much red meat left

There are good reasons for this.

There is not much red meat left to throw to the pro-war nationalists.

A full mobilisation? A political and economic nightmare. Formal declaration of war? It would spook the public and achieve little. Nuclear strikes on Kyiv? Plain stupid.

But the old pact with the wider public – stability, rising living standards, and economic competence in exchange for political quietism – has reliably served the Kremlin for decades.

The price asked of the Russian public is now higher. They must accept not only Mr Putin’s supreme power and indefinite tenure in the Kremlin, but also fight his insane war.

For now, they seem willing to go along with it. Whether he can deliver on his end of the bargain amid the privations of a wartime economy is irrelevant.

Failure can always be blamed on some underling. More promises can be churned out when needed. And the war will go on.


  1. I make no apologies for revisiting a comment I made yesterday:

    How to prevent this poisonous little puff adder from making the same speech in another year’s time:
    Option one: The US sends two divisions of mechanized troops; one to Kyiv oblast and one to Odesa oblast. The UK sends one division to Mykolaiv oblast. Poland sends one to Lviv oblast.
    Explain to putler: they are there in a defensive capacity. They will not attack unless attacked.
    Ukraine will then be able to redeploy their own troops as they see fit, to the main areas of combat.
    No need to declare NFZ; they will be naturally providing air cover to their own forces.
    Option two : Ukraine immediately joins Nato.
    Option three: the allies immediately send jets, MBT’s in large numbers, long range fires including ATACMS and much more heavy artillery.
    We already know that options 1 and 2 are ruled out unfortunately.
    That leaves option 3.
    So just do it.

  2. Best lines from Joe Biden
    (As chosen by a DT journo)

    “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia – never.”
    “There should be no doubt: our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided and we will not tire.”
    “Kyiv stands strong, Kyiv stands proud, it stands tall and most importantly it stands free.”
    “There is no sweeter word than freedom.”
    Putin thought he was “tough” but met “iron will of America.”
    “The West is not plotting to attack Russia as Putin said today. Millions of Russian citizens who only want to live in peace with their neighbours are not the enemy.”

    Absolutely. Fine words. But it is now time to admit that the sole reason for Ukraine signing the Budapest Memorandum was that it was believed by them to be as binding as the “attack on one is an attack on all” oath of Nato.
    Clearly all three signatories other than Ukraine have reneged.
    That is why the U.S. and U.K. have an enormous responsibility to end this war quickly.
    In another year, Ukraine could lose another 100,000 troops and God knows how many civilians. That cannot be allowed.
    Finish it by enabling Ukraine to permanently remove 3000 orcs/day from the battlefield. Even the putler death cult can’t sustain such losses.

  3. A good move, Vlad. No nation can sustain such expenditures for long, no matter how much you embellish it with ridiculous propaganda. But, the moronic, brain-dead ruskies will still love you for destroying their economy.

    “The only real nod to foreign policy was suspension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, a nuclear weapons control deal.”

    This is not worth more than a mere nod. What is a ruskie’s word worth, anyhow? That’s right, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Let these brain-dead zombies bathe in their nukes, for all I care. We have plenty ourselves to evaporate the shithole.

    But, all mafia land has left to sooth the black ruskie soul are empty words. Only the most brainless there believe in the same old garbage they are being fed. Although, it doesn’t matter if they believe the dwarf or not, either way, they will go down without raising a finger.

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