Foto: Michael Siebert /

Today, Russian president Vladimir Putin delivered his state of the nation speech. He warns the West – including Ukraine.

It could have been worse, but the speech delivered by Russian president Vladimir Putin today, did not do much to calm down the people fearing a full scale war between Ukraine and Russia.

Instead, he said that the West should be careful about crossing Russia’s “red lines,” claimed that the US was behind an assassination attempt on Belarus’ president Alexander Lukashenko and said that Russia was ready to answer to provocations.

“We want good relations, and we really don’t want to burn bridges,” Putin said, “But if someone mistakes our good intentions for indifference or weakness and intends to burn down or even blow up these bridges, they should know that Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, swift and harsh,”

While that sounds very confrontational, it is not – as confrontational as many Ukrainians feared. Experts, commentators and politicians have been trying to predict the content of the speech.

Many of them feared, that Putin would talk about a need to protect Russian civilians, which could be read as a motivation for attacking Donbas, since Russian media has been claiming that Ukraine is shelling civilians.

Some even wondered if he would talk about going even further than that and declaring war before the meeting with his security council later this week, however that did not happen. It was a band-aid on an open wound, but still better than many expected.

“In some countries, they have developed a highly unseemly habit of picking on Russia for any reason, and most often for no reason at all – a kind of sport,” said Putin, in front of a cheering crowd of ministers, politicians and government officials.

Zelensky replied before the speech

In likely anticipation of the speech in Russia, the Ukrainian counterpart Volodimir Zelensky repeated the same message he and his ministers have been voicing since tensions started to rise.

“Does Ukraine want a war? No. Is it ready for it? Yes. Will Ukraine stop fighting for peace through diplomacy? Never. Will Ukraine defend itself if it needs to? Always,” Zelensky said telling Ukrainians to be vigilant, but not afraid.

“We are not afraid, because Ukraine-2021 has no illusions. It understands who is our true friend and brother, who is ready to lend a shoulder, and who might hit us in the back. That is why Ukraine-2021 understands all possible scenarios and knows what it will do in response to any developments. We are not afraid, because we have an incredible Army and great defenders. Last week I spent two days with them on the frontline. What do they say about the situation? They are used to not speak, but do their job,” said Zelensky.

Otherwise uneventful

Other than the talks on foreign policy, which only took up a small part of the hour long speech, the rest of Putin’s message was rather uneventful. He talked mostly about families, the economy and COVID19.

He also promised several new economic reforms to counteract the rising costs of living in Russia, he claimed he wanted to improve the education system and praised the healthcare personnel working the COVID19 wards.