(BBC News) Vladimir Putin has sharpened his vitriol towards the West as U.S. President Joe Biden, fresh from a visit to Kyiv, praised western democracy for standing up to naked Russian aggression.
In a week heavy with events ahead of Friday’s anniversary of Russia’s Ukraine invasion, Putin spoke first.
The West had enabled Nazi Germany, he claimed, and had turned Ukraine into a neo-Nazi regime that was “anti-Russia”.
Hours later, Biden said autocrats understood only one word: “No, no, no!”
“Putin thought the world would roll over; he was wrong,” he said, saying that NATO was more united than ever. Kyiv stood strong, proud, tall, and free, and western support for Ukraine would not fail, he added.
Welcoming Biden to Warsaw’s royal castle, Polish President Andrzej Duda said that by travelling to Kyiv, Biden had shown the free world did not fear anything. NATO’s role was to defend and support the free world, and Ukraine “must win this war.”
Putin’s speech barely touched on the progress of Russia’s military in Ukraine and there was no indication of how the war might end. The main news involving Russia’s military came from Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who accused the chief of staff and defence minister of trying to destroy his group and starve it of weapons.
Putin announced he was suspending the New Start nuclear arms control treaty signed with the U.S. in 2010. The deal caps nuclear warhead numbers, and NATO, and U.K. leaders have urged him to reconsider.
He also declared he had put new ground-based systems on combat duty. He had already threatened last year to use “all means at our disposal” to protect Russia and territory it has seized in Ukraine.
In his lengthy speech at an exhibition centre a stone’s throw from the Kremlin, Puitin said, “They were the ones who started the war … we’re using force to stop it,”
Russia’s foreign ministry summoned U.S. ambassador Lynne Tracy on Tuesday, saying that Washington should take steps to withdraw “U.S.-NATO military and equipment” from Ukraine.