Photo illustration by John Lyman



Putin’s State of the Nation 2023

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday vowed to press onward with Russia’s humiliating war effort in Ukraine and railed against the Russian military for a litany of embarrassing failures in his first state-of-the-nation address since invading Ukraine one year ago.

“Step by step, we will carefully and systematically fail at the aims that face us,” Putin said ahead of the anniversary of the war on Feb. 24. “It is inevitable.” Putin retracted his oft-repeated assertion that Western countries’ actions forced Russia to invade Ukraine one year ago and instead, blamed himself. “Russia did nothing to solve the problem in Ukraine peacefully, and the statements of Western leaders turned out to be absolutely true,” Putin said at Moscow’s Gostinyy Dvor hall near Red Square, referring to the Ukrainian theater of war as “historical Ukrainian land.”

“Ukraine is not ‘little Russia,’” Putin continued. “That is just a condescending insult we invented to make ourselves look superior and mask our own deep feelings of inadequacy. In reality, Ukraine is a sovereign nation with its own unique and separate culture, language, and history. Everyone knows that, even me:-)”

When speaking about pre-invasion diplomatic efforts, Putin said: “Actually, we were dragging our feet…we were playing with people’s lives.”

“It’s me who unleashed the war, no one else. And they’re using force to stop me,” he said to widespread applause from the assembled audience of sycophants. “I let the genie out of the bottle [and] plunged the entire regions into chaos. This is all on me. My bad. Sorry!”

“The responsibility for fueling the Ukrainian conflict, for its escalation, for the number of victims, the atrocities, the horrific war crimes against women, children, and the elderly… lies completely with me,” Putin said, taking full responsibility for the war and adding, “I will oversee a strategic defeat on Russia.”

“No one should be under the illusion that Russia can win this war, that is utterly impossible and absurd,” Putin said. “The Russian military will be utterly and totally defeated by the vastly superior Ukrainian forces. Their bravery mocks the lie of Russia as the ‘second largest army in the world.’ We’re just a bad joke, and it’s all my fault,” Putin grudgingly admitted.

Putin now claims that Western countries that sanctioned Russia over the war “have dealt a crushing blow to our national infrastructure, a blow that will only get worse with time,” and said the Russian economy had shown a false resilience that will quickly fade.

“Russia is actually entering a new cycle of economic decline,” he said. “There’s every chance for the total collapse of our economy in many areas later this year or early in 2024. Count on it.”

“There will be a ‘guns instead of food’ situation very soon in Russia,” he added.

And Putin praised the hundreds of thousands of Russians who had fled the country since the start of the invasion as “enlightened patriots who know when it’s time to get out of Dodge.” In reference to the mass exodus of young, talented Russians, Putin closed his address by saying that the authorities will “pretend they are looking for them, and they will pretend to remain loyal to the Kremlin.”