For those who might be curious for the details about what Putin is saying in one of his most significant annual speeches, and near the anniversary of the start of the war, the Kremlin has posted an English transcript here:http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/70565
Many news articles have reported on the speech, but tend to focus on specific parts of it to fit a given story.
For my own part, the reason I wanted to look it up was to understand the current narrative being pushed in Russia. It should go without saying, but propoganda warning for the following excerpts:
One year ago, to protect the people in our historical lands, to ensure the security of our country and to eliminate the threat coming from the neo-Nazi regime that had taken hold in Ukraine after the 2014 coup, it was decided to begin the special military operation...
Since 2014, Donbass has been fighting for the right to live in their land and to speak their native tongue. It fought and never gave up amid the blockade, constant shelling and the Kiev regime’s overt hatred. It hoped and waited that Russia would come to help.
In the meantime, as you know well, we were doing everything in our power to solve this problem by peaceful means, and patiently conducted talks on a peaceful solution to this devastating conflict.
This appalling method of deception has been tried and tested many times before. They behaved just as shamelessly and duplicitously when destroying Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
The threat was growing by the day. Judging by the information we received, there was no doubt that everything would be in place by February 2022 for launching yet another bloody punitive operation in Donbass.
Let me reiterate that they were the ones who started this war, while we used force and are using it to stop the war.
None of them cares about human casualties and tragedies because many trillions of dollars are at stake, of course. They can also continue to rob everyone under the guise of democracy and freedoms, to impose neoliberal and essentially totalitarian values, to brand entire countries and nations, to publicly insult their leaders, to suppress dissent in their own countries and to divert attention from corruption scandals by creating an enemy image.
Neo-Nazis are open about whose heirs they consider themselves to be. Surprisingly, none of the powers that be in the West are seeing it. Why? Because they – pardon my language – could not care less about it. They do not care who they are betting on in their fight against us, against Russia.
The West is using Ukraine as a battering ram against Russia and as a testing range. I am not going to discuss in detail the West's attempts to turn the war around, or their plans to ramp up military supplies, since everyone is well aware of that. However, there is one circumstance that everyone should be clear about: the longer the range of the Western systems that will be supplied to Ukraine, the further we will have to move the threat away from our borders. This is obvious.
The Western elite make no secret of their goal, which is, I quote, “Russia’s strategic defeat.” What does this mean to us? This means they plan to finish us once and for all.
These are talking points we have heard before, re-arranged and collected together to update the framing of the war: The "special military operation" was initiated to defend the innocent people in the Donbass who spent the 8 years before the war peacefully destroying towns like Pisky and major portions of Avdiivka. But the alleged Ukrainian plans to attack the Donbass were just a smaller matter enabled by western governments propping up the "Nazis" in Kyiv in pursuit of the bigger goal of destroying Russia.
From there, he spends significant time thanking the people of Russia and occupied Ukraine (in light of the "referendums") for their ostensibly near-universal support for the war and their sacrifices, and then talks about how Russia is making the occupied areas better. He set up his intended context for talking about the sacrifices they are making by asking for a moment of silence for all those killed by "the neo-Nazis." He also talks about efforts to correct the chaotic and neglectful treatment of soldiers, while at the same time minimizing it.
He talked extensively about plans to increase production of modern military equipment while bolstering the general welfare and mitigating the impacts of sanctions. On the latter, he continued to claim that Europe is suffering far worse from those sanctions than Russia is, and that Russia's economy is being transformed to be better than ever. There is a lot of, "We have a plan and everything is going according to plan. Trust us," regarding the economy. With that said, there seem to be some fairly concrete efforts underway to improve transportation infrastructure to the Caspian Sea and to the east, which matches the shift to increasing reliance on trade with Iran and China. In general, there is a lot of talk about new government funded projects, and no significant talk about how to pay for it.