What are the messages behind Biden and Putin’s Tuesday addresses?
Published: Feb 22, 2023 09:33 PM
Xinhua file photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and US President Joe Biden (R)

Xinhua file photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and US President Joe Biden (right)

Editor's Note:

As the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict approaches, Russian and US leaders have recently taken measures to boost the morale of the two sides at war. In particular, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden both delivered a speech regarding the ongoing conflict on Tuesday. What are the messages behind the addresses, especially Putin's? Will they affect the development of the war? How does Russia interpret Biden's recent trip to Ukraine and Poland? The Global Times talked with two Russian experts about their perspectives on these issues.

Sergey Biryukov, a professor at the Siberian Institute of Management in Novosibirsk of Russia

In his Tuesday speech, Putin doubled down on his criticisms of the West and justified the need for a Special Military Operation precisely by highlighting the aggressive and threatening behavior of Western countries toward Russia for many years. Russia's military operation, in accordance with the logic of the Russian president, aimed to disrupt these plans by the West.

Russia, having made groundless concessions and rapprochement with the West in the 1990s, and demonstrating its commitment to dialogue with it in subsequent years, not only did not find an adequate perception of its position, but almost fell into the "confrontation trap" skillfully constructed by the West - which required extraordinary actions in order to avoid.

Putin's main message to the world community is the question of the historical responsibility of the West for the actual breakdown of the balance of power in world politics and the destruction of the system of international relations that has been formed for many decades. Ukraine, according to the head of the Russian state, has become hostage to the irresponsible political game of the West.

Joe Biden and the segment of the American and global elite behind him support the conflict with Russia in an acute phase and even seek to aggravate it in order to continue forming a new global coalition around the US, including non-Western countries that are hesitating today. At the same time, Biden needs to justify the previous large-scale assistance to Ukraine by referring to the allegedly growing threat from Russia against a number of societies and countries. The US president has chosen injection technology, and the way of such injection is his demonstrative trip to Kiev and Warsaw, designed to attract the attention of voters of the US Democratic Party and representatives of the world community oriented to American "Democrats."

Vladimir Pavlenko, a research fellow at the Moscow-based independent public scientific organization Academy of Geopolitical Problems

Putin's message is a response to the anti-Russian statements at the Munich Security Conference. The Russian president pointed out that the US and the West deliberately unleashed hostilities, using the Minsk agreements to buy time and arm Ukraine. Washington and other Western countries are not hiding it, but bragging about it.

Putin recalled in the address that at the end of 2021, Russia sent the West comprehensive proposals for an equitable system of collective security, including drafts of relevant treaties. The West rejected the Russian initiative, and it became clear that the five-time expansion of NATO was a deliberate policy to achieve a decisive geopolitical advantage over Russia and to inflict a strategic defeat on us.

Russia is using force forcibly to stop the war unleashed by the West. Since the creation of a centralized Russian state, the West has perceived Moscow as an opponent and has repeatedly invaded to try to destroy us. In the 30 years after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Western countries have been trying to turn Ukraine into an "anti-Russian" bulwark and use it as a battering ram against our country.

Despite the historical lessons, such a view continues to be heard in certain Western circles: It is in the interests of the West to separate a number of Russian territories from the country, to create puppet states on them, while organizing a "color revolution" in our own country. Today we have every opportunity to break this vicious circle of history, providing sovereignty - if not forever, then for a very long time.

Russia's opponents in this conflict are actively taking advantage of the first anniversary of the Special Military Operation, including US President Joe Biden's trip to Kiev and Warsaw. In his speech in Poland, Biden responded to Putin's decision to suspend Russia's participation in the New START Treaty, which expires in 2026, something the US was clearly counting on.

The US president planned his trip expecting to outplay Russia, presenting himself to the world public as a "hero on the front lines." And now Biden's visit to Ukraine and Poland has become the backdrop for a Russian initiative that completely changes the situation and balance in the world. Putin's decision will deprive the US of treaty guarantees in the field of strategic security - In this area, the US is currently most vulnerable, as for certain reasons, it is significantly behind Russia.