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‘A Knife to the Throat’: Putin’s Logic for Invading Ukraine

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 23 February 2022

⏱️ 30 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript

Summary

At 10 p.m. in Moscow on Monday night, Russian state television interrupted its regular programming to air an address from President Vladimir V. Putin about the Ukraine crisis. We look back on what Mr. Putin’s hourlong speech — remarkable for his overt display of emotion and grievance — revealed about his rationale for invading. Guest: Anton Troianovski, the Moscow bureau chief for The New York Times.

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0:00.0

From New York Times, I'm Michael Bavaro. This is the Daily.

0:11.4

As the world has waited to see whether Russia will or will not invade Ukraine and with early

0:17.6

signs that an invasion may now have begun, much of the uncertainty has hinged on the question

0:24.4

of what exactly Vladimir Putin is thinking. Today, my colleague Anton Choyanovsky says that

0:32.9

the answer may lie in an unusual speech that Putin delivered on Monday night.

0:45.4

It's Wednesday, February 23rd.

0:48.6

And on set the scene for us as this major speech from Vladimir Putin gets underway.

0:58.6

Well, it's almost 10 p.m. in Moscow on Monday night when state television breaks into regular

1:05.9

programming and shows Putin sitting in the Kremlin in a nondescript wood paneled office,

1:13.6

Russian flags behind him a bank of telephones to his left.

1:27.9

And he starts to deliver a speech that's certainly the most remarkable speech I've seen him give

1:34.4

in the time I've been in Moscow.

1:37.9

Why? You know, it was this emotion, the sense of grievance, even this anger that you could see

1:45.9

breaking through again and again as he spoke for almost an hour and that we haven't seen

1:52.9

to this degree in Putin's public appearances over the years. You would see flashes of it,

1:59.9

but to have him speaking to an hour addressing the nation on national television in prime time,

2:07.2

it was really something something new, something different.

2:10.1

And at a very high level, Anton, what is the goal of this speech?

2:21.3

Well, that's another thing that made this speech so remarkable is that tensions were so incredibly high.

2:27.2

You had the sense that after months of buildup, Putin would finally reveal his plans for Ukraine,

2:35.5

was he going to invade? What goals was he pursuing? And leading up to this, there was a lot of tension

2:43.0

and the Kremlin had really left this question wide open. What did Putin actually want? And there was a sense,

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