Pavel to CNN: Putin's speech veers from reality

The Russian president blamed the West for starting the war in Ukraine and also announced suspension of the New Start Treaty. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 22.02.2023 10:20:00 (updated on 22.02.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Russian President Vladimir Putin's interpretation of what led to the war in Ukraine considerably differs from reality, Czech president-elect Petr Pavel told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

In his traditional speech before the Russian federal assembly, Putin said the West unleashed the war in Ukraine and was trying to destroy Russia.

“It is an example of Russian behavior and the behavior of Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Both use narratives that are very different from reality. They distort reality, which is why it is so difficult to negotiate with them," Pavel said.

Putin said that the war in Ukraine, which started with a Russian military invasion almost one year ago, had been unleashed by the West and that Russia is only trying to stop it by force.

Putin also said that Russia cannot be defeated on the battlefield and pointed out the size and strength of the Russian military, a point that foreign observers are, however, divided over.

Russia shouldn't be underestimated

"Since the beginning of the aggression, we can observe the insufficient performance of the Russian army in all aspects, including equipment or training," Pavel told CNN.

Nevertheless, the West should not underestimate Russia's capability of learning a lesson from its own mistakes, he added. Pavel also called for cautiousness in relation to China and its proposals for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

He said Beijing can learn a lesson from the current situation in case a conflict flared up between China and the West. Furthermore, China is not interested in Russia's defeat, since Russia is its natural ally, Pavel said.

Pavel, a retired general who was Czech chief of staff and also chairman of the NATO military committee, takes office on May 9.

Putin suspends participation in treaty signed in Prague

In his speech, Putin also announced that Russia will be suspending its participation in the New START treaty, which calls for reducing the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers and establishing a new inspection and verification regime.

The treaty was signed in Prague in 2010 at a bilateral meeting of then-U.S. president Barack Obama and then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.

Inspections were halted in 2020 due to Covid and have not resumed. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the suspension was reversible if the U.S. showed the political will to do so.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the move was unfortunate and irresponsible, adding that current President Joe Biden remained ready to discuss the treaty at any time. The treaty was already extended once and now expires in 2026.

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