The first part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent speech repeats his litany of complaints about Ukraine, the hardships imposed on the people of Donetsk and Luhansk (he never mentions that their hardship was 100 percent self-inflicted by them entering into a state of insurrection nor that Russia fomented that insurrection and bears primary responsibility for those hardships), and the indignities suffered by Noble Russia at the hands of NATO and their stooges in Ukraine.
Putin indicates that the economic sanctions are working, as he lies about every imaginable social and economic trope from “property rights” to “canceling” to the dollar's weakness.
In his speech, Putin again claims that Ukraine was plotting a bloody war against Russia. He also refers to the necessity of “deNazifying” Ukraine, his terminology for getting rid of the Zelensky government, and “demilitarizing” the country or disarming it. Somehow this is supposed to create a “neutral” state (not a Russian puppet state), according to folks such as Douglas MacGregor (retired U.S. Army colonel and government official). All this makes it extremely difficult to find any face-saving formula for a peace settlement as the current facts on the ground indicate that neither Zelensky nor the Ukrainian Armed Forces are likely to agree to disappear.
It is the last section of the speech that is the most foreboding. If taken in the context of current events, it indicates that Putin knows he can't rely on the loyalty of the “oligarchs” who control the Russian economy…and who have had their stuff confiscated by Western governments.
Putin went on to try and rally average Russians to his cause.
Here Putin is singling out anyone who is not toeing the line on the invasion of Ukraine as “scum and traitors.” His extolling the virtues of “a natural and necessary self-purification of society” implies that he will set that process into motion. Then Putin's Mini-Me, press secretary Dmitry Peskov, sums it all up. Peskov's use of the word “cleansed,” in particular, seems ominous, given the history of Stalin and the Holodomor.
One has to ask what would prompt Putin to give such a speech now. The speech does nothing to move a ceasefire and peace agreement closer. In fact, his harping on all the bad things that have happened in Donbas since the Russians instigated a revolt there and all the mean things said about Russia, along with his whining about “deNazification,” seem calculated to make a peace deal impossible.
A possible explanation is that Putin sees cracks appearing in Russian society that are not yet apparent to either the clods who manage our intelligence community or the inbreds in our State Department. By directing some of his ire at the super-wealthy Russians who are being hurt by sanctions and who prefer life outside of Russia, he is both signaling the loyalty problem developing among the oligarchs and setting them up as a common enemy.
Putin's phrase equating “speculating on military losses” with the actions of a Fifth Column hint that Russian casualties are becoming an issue. Putin is well aware that the current draftee class will be demobilized starting April 1. At the same time, a new draftee class will be inducted over a three-month period. During the Soviet era, draft resistance was a major problem for the Red Army. If a wave of draft resistance takes off because of casualties in Ukraine, the current Russian Armed Forces will collapse, unless Putin makes some very tough calls to prevent his claim that “the operation is developing successfully, in strict accordance with pre-approved plans” from being revealed as a bald-faced lie.