What is the strength of our nation

Talk to the nation: Putin threatens the strength of his army

Vladimir Putin showed himself to be proud, self-confident and combative in his speech to the nation. "Russia is able to defend fellow citizens and the truth," said the Russian President in Moscow. He defended his country's intervention in the Ukraine crisis against criticism from the West.

First, Putin spoke about the Crimea: the annexation of the peninsula to Russia was done in full compliance with international law. "We have recognized the cohesion and wholeness of our homeland and shown that we can achieve a lot," said Putin. Russia will not bow to the subjugation policy of the West. Crimea has "great civilizational and sacral importance for Russia - now and forever," said the president in the speech broadcast on state television. The Crimea is to Russia what the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is to the Jews.

Putin said that every people has an "indispensable right to become independent, to choose partners and to build relationships". Russia will continue to accept this in the future, and this will also apply to Ukraine. However, when the EU negotiated an association agreement with its Russian neighbor a year ago, Russia was "completely ignored" - despite the great effects of the treaty on Moscow. "We were told that it is supposedly none of our business," said Putin. But Russia has legitimate interests. "If we are not heard, we will be forced to defend our interests," said Putin.

"The army is polite"

For many European countries the term national pride has become insignificant. "For Russia, sovereignty is a condition for its existence," said Putin and threatened the "opponents of his country": Russia strives for good relations, but the defense of the security and stability of Russia has priority. "Our army is polite but strong and strong, and we have enough courage to prove it." It is not possible to defeat Russia militarily.

Putin ruled out a costly arms race, even if Russia increased its defense budget. He said the nation had "unusual solutions" at its disposal, but he did not elaborate on them. "The more we withdraw and justify ourselves, the bolder our opponents become and the more cynical and aggressive they behave," he said.

USA have deliberately harmed Russia

The sanctions imposed by the West in connection with the Ukraine crisis are only a pretext to prevent Russia from gaining strength, Putin said. The West would have wanted to damage its country in a targeted manner: "Had the Ukraine crisis not existed, the West would have come up with other reasons to impose sanctions." These instruments are used every time others believe that "Russia has become too strong". Nevertheless, Russia does not want to "break off" relations with Europe and the USA.

The EU and US punitive measures against Russia would "seriously damage the West," said Putin. But they are also an incentive for Moscow. "The sanctions are the best incentive to achieve our goals."

Putin accused the United States of detonating in Russia's immediate neighborhood and destabilizing the region. "Sometimes you don't know who to talk to - the governments of some states or directly with their American sponsors."

Amnesty for foreign exchange refugees

Politics should be judged separately from the economy, Putin said. In the second part of his speech, the president turned to the economic problems of his country with far less passion and pathos.

In the fight against capital flight, he proposed an amnesty if money was returned to Russia. But this chance only exists once, said Putin. Many Russians have invested offshore capital in countries with favorable tax conditions, for example in Cyprus.

In addition, he will instruct the central bank and the government to take strict action against speculators in the foreign exchange market. Money from the sovereign wealth fund should be used to support the local banks.

At the end of his speech, Putin was once again combative. He ended with the words "We will win".