Highlights From Putin’s Address on Breakaway Regions in Ukraine

It was a seminal, hourlong speech that threatened to clear the way for war. On Monday night President Vladimir V. Putin said he would recognize the independence of two Russian-backed territories in eastern Ukraine, setting the stage for the possibility of Russian military action against Ukraine.

Here are excerpts from his address, which he said was also directed to his “compatriots” in Ukraine.

  • “Why was it necessary to make an enemy out of us?” Mr. Putin asked, repeating his long-held grievances about NATO’s eastward expansion. “They didn’t want such a large, independent country as Russia. In this lies the answer to all questions.”

  • “We clearly understand that in such a scenario, the degree of military threat to Russia will rise cardinally, by multiple times,” Mr. Putin said of the potential of Ukraine joining NATO. “If our ancestors heard about this, they would probably not believe it. And we don’t want to believe it. But that’s how it is.”

  • “Let me emphasize once again that Ukraine for us is not just a neighboring country. It is an integral part of our own history, culture, spiritual space,” Mr. Putin said, referring to Ukraine’s importance to Russia. “These are our comrades, relatives, among whom are not only colleagues, friends, former colleagues, but also relatives, people connected with us by blood, family ties.”

  • “We are being blackmailed, they are threatening us with sanctions. But I think they will impose those sanctions,” he said referring to possible repercussions of Russian action. “A new pretext will always be found or fabricated. Irrespective of the situation in Ukraine,” he added. “The purpose is single: to keep Russia behind, to prevent it from developing. And they will do it before even without any formal pretext. Just because we exist. We will never give up our sovereignty, national interest, and our values.”

  • “The so-called civilized world, the representatives of the self-proclaimed western colleagues, they act as if they do not notice anything. As if nothing is happening, as if this nightmare did not exist.”

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