On the afternoon of 21 February 2023, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, delivered to his countrymen — but also speaking importantly to the entire world (since his speech is significant for the future history of the world, and not only for Russians) — a “Presidential Address to Federal Assembly”, which I, as a historian who has reviewed the source documents on all particulars, can independently verify was entirely truthful in its account of history. It opened as follows:
This Presidential Address comes, as we all know, at a difficult, watershed period for our country. This is a time of radical, irreversible change in the entire world, of crucial historical events that will determine the future of our country and our people, a time when every one of us bears a colossal responsibility.
One year ago, to protect the people in our historical lands, to ensure the security of our country and to eliminate the threat coming from the neo-Nazi regime that had taken hold in Ukraine after the 2014 coup, it was decided to begin the special military operation. Step by step, carefully and consistently we will deal with the tasks we have at hand.
Since 2014, Donbass has been fighting for the right to live in their land and to speak their native tongue. It fought and never gave up amid the blockade, constant shelling and the Kiev regime’s overt hatred. It hoped and waited that Russia would come to help.
In the meantime, as you know well, we were doing everything in our power to solve this problem by peaceful means, and patiently conducted talks on a peaceful solution to this devastating conflict.
This appalling method of deception has been tried and tested many times before. They behaved just as shamelessly and duplicitously when destroying Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. They will never be able to wash off this shame. The concepts of honour, trust, and decency are not for them.
Over the long centuries of colonialism, diktat and hegemony, they got used to being allowed everything, got used to spitting on the whole world. It turned out that they treat people living in their own countries with the same disdain, like a master. After all, they cynically deceived them too, tricked them with tall stories about the search for peace, about adherence to the UN Security Council resolutions on Donbass. Indeed, the Western elites have become a symbol of total, unprincipled lies.
We firmly defend our interests as well as our belief that in today’s world there should be no division into so-called civilised countries and all the rest and that there is a need for an honest partnership that rejects any exclusivity, especially an aggressive one.
We were open and sincerely ready for a constructive dialogue with the West; we said and insisted that both Europe and the whole world needed an indivisible security system equal for all countries, and for many years we suggested that our partners discuss this idea together and work on its implementation. But in response, we received either an indistinct or hypocritical reaction, as far as words were concerned. But there were also actions: NATO’s expansion to our borders, the creation of new deployment areas for missile defence in Europe and Asia – they decided to take cover from us under an ‘umbrella’ – deployment of military contingents, and not just near Russia’s borders.
I would like to stress – in fact, this is well-known – that no other country has so many military bases abroad as the United States. There are hundreds of them – I want to emphasise this – hundreds of bases all over the world; the planet is covered with them, and one look at the map is enough to see this.
The whole world witnessed how they withdrew from fundamental agreements on weapons, including the treaty on intermediate and shorter-range missiles, unilaterally tearing up the fundamental agreements that maintain world peace. For some reason, they did it. They do not do anything without a reason, as we know.
Finally, in December 2021, we officially submitted draft agreements on security guarantees to the USA and NATO. In essence, all key, fundamental points were rejected. After that it finally became clear that the go-ahead for the implementation of aggressive plans had been given and they were not going to stop. …
In fact, the key portions of the two 17 December 2021 proposed Agreements, with both the U.S. and with NATO, were, in regards to NATO:
The Parties shall guide in their relations by the principles of cooperation, equal and indivisible security. They shall not strengthen their security individually, within international organizations, military alliances or coalitions at the expense of the security of other Parties. …
The Russian Federation and all the Parties that were member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as of 27 May 1997, respectively, shall not deploy military forces and weaponry on the territory of any of the other States in Europe in addition to the forces stationed on that territory as of 27 May 1997. With the consent of all the Parties such deployments can take place in exceptional cases to eliminate a threat to security of one or more Parties.
The Parties shall not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas allowing them to reach the territory of the other Parties.
All member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization commit themselves to refrain from any further enlargement of NATO, including the accession of Ukraine as well as other States.
And, in regards to the U.S.:
The Parties shall seek to ensure that all international organizations, military alliances and coalitions in which at least one of the Parties is taking part adhere to the principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations.
The Parties shall not use the territories of other States with a view to preparing or carrying out an armed attack against the other Party or other actions affecting core security interests of the other Party.
The United States of America shall undertake to prevent further eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and deny accession to the Alliance to the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The United States of America shall not establish military bases in the territory of the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, use their infrastructure for any military activities or develop bilateral military cooperation with them.
Any reader here can easily click onto the respective link to either proposed Agreement, in order to read that entire document, in order to evaluate whether or not all of its proposed provisions are acceptable and reasonable. What was proposed in each of the two was only a proposal, and the other side (the U.S. side) in each of the two instances was therefore able to pick and choose amongst those proposed provisions, which ones were accepted, and to negotiate on any of the others; but, instead, the U.S. side rejected all of them.
On 7 January 2022, the Associated Press (AP) headlined “US, NATO rule out halt to expansion, reject Russian demands”, and reported:
Washington and NATO have formally rejected Russia’s key demands for assurances that the US-led military bloc will not expand closer towards its borders, leaked correspondence reportedly shows.
According to documents seen by Spanish daily El Pais and published on Wednesday morning, Moscow’s calls for a written guarantee that Ukraine will not be admitted as a member of NATO were dismissed following several rounds of talks between Russian and Western diplomats. …
The US-led bloc denied that it posed a threat to Russia. …
The US similarly rejected the demand that NATO does not expand even closer to Russia’s borders. “The United States continues to firmly support NATO’s Open Door Policy.”
Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022.