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VLADIMIR Putin has accused the West of trying to start a "global" war in a deranged and rambling speech.
The deluded dictator addressed Russia in a major address just days before the anniversary of the war in Ukraine.
It comes as fears loom Moscow is about launch a major new offensive in bid to break the bloody deadlock with Kyiv.
Putin spoke to an audience his political and military cronies as he offered them an update on his so-called "special military operation".
The ageing autocrat, 70, spoke in front of both houses of parliament nearly one year to day since he launched his war of aggression.
In a characteristically long-winded and rambling speech, Vlad vowed that Russia would "defend our interests"in a veiled threat as he further deepened the divide with the West.
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Vlad said he will "systematically" continue his war in Ukraine – and accused the West of trying to start a "war against Russia".
Putin again tried to blame Ukraine for the war – and accused the West of working "behind our backs" to undermine Russia.
He relied on tired old rhetoric about "Nazis" .
And he complained the West is "spitting at the entire world" as he attempted to justify the violence in Ukraine.
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As he spoke, there were reports of fighter jets and bombers being moved to bases near the border and heavy shelling across Ukraine.
"We are defending people's lives, but the West's goals are limitless power," moaned Putin.
Vlad went on: "We did everything possible, genuinely everything possible, in order to solve this problem (in Ukraine) by peaceful means.
"We were patient, we were negotiating a peaceful way out of this difficult conflict, but a completely different scenario was being prepared behind our backs."
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden – fresh off his visit to Kyiv – will give a speech tonight rallying support for Ukraine at the Royal Castle Poland.
The last time Biden spoke there – he said: "For God’s sake, [Putin] cannot remain in power."
The highly symbolic duelling speeches come at a time of unprecedented tensions.
Vlad's gamble has put the world on the sharpest knife edge since the Cold War.
It comes as:
- Joe Biden made a surprise vist to Kyiv to meet with Volodymyr Zelensky
- The world is counting down to the anniversary of the war on February 24
- Russia is feared to be massing 500,000 troops for a new assault on Ukraine
- Zelensky warned China arming Russia could trigger World War 3
- Ukraine says Russia has placed its nuclear forces on combat alert
- It is estimated more than 144,000 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine
- Ukrainian defense chief Oleksiy Danilov vowed the war would end with tanks on Red Square
- Leaked documents reveal Putin's own spies believe he is a 'bullying narcissistic liar'
- The Sun Online visited Europe's border with Russia – a place where spies are everywhere
Russia is estimated to have lost almost 150,000 soldiers in Ukraine as they are smashed against a heroic Ukrainian resistance led by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Putin's future is now seen as tied to his success or failure.
Moscow still controls one fifth of Ukraine, but has seen major battlefield defeats and hopes of a quick victory dashed.
Vlad is desperate to win to save himself – and sees the war as part of a wider conflict with the West.
Britain, the US, and other Western nations are all supporting Ukraine with weapons and supplies.
Vlad's speech comes just one day after US President Joe Biden made an unprecedented secret visit to Kyiv.
Biden doubled down his support for Ukraine in one of the biggest shows of support yet by Washington.
Putin meanwhile is believed to be attempted to get China to side with him and give him weapons.
It is a move that could reset the battlelines between East and West.
And it is one Ukrainian leader Zelensky warned could trigger World War 3.
"China is deeply worried about the continuous escalation of the conflict and possibility of the situation spiralling out of control," said Chinese minister Qin Gang.
It is feared Russia could be preparing a large new offensive – with reports of up to 500,000 soldiers gathering for an attack on Ukraine.
Ukrainian intelligence yesterday also reported that Vlad has put his nuclear forces of high combat readiness.
It has long been suggested Vlad could use the threat of nukes to force capitulation from Ukraine – or actually detonate one of the weapons to break the deadlock.
Vlad using a nuke during the war would be the first time such a weapon has been used in combat since the US dropped two bombs on Japan in 1945.
The war on the ground has remained relatively stagnant over the winter – with bloody, grinding trench warfare across the eastern flank.
Vuhledar and Bakhmut have devolved into the bloodiest battles of the war so far – with Zelensky describing them as a "living wall" against Russia.
Ukraine continues to call for more Western aid – in particular fighter jets – to finally defeat Russia.
Russia expected to be welcomed as conquering liberators when they staged their invasion nearly one year ago.
But instead of flags and cheering crowns, they were met with gunfire and brave resistance.
Putin is facing internal political pressure with the anniversary now just days away – and very little to show for the vast expenditure of blood and treasure.
It is believed that if Putin continues to fail in the war, his regime could collapse – and it could have dire consequences for Russia.
Biden's unannounced visit to Ukraine is seen as a rallying call to solidify support in the West.
The US President has seen some voices in Washington beginning to waver as he pledged a further £400million of backing for Kyiv.
However, he vowed Washington will stand with Kyiv for "as long as it takes."
Biden said: "When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided.
"He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong."
"The cost that Ukraine has had to pay is extraordinarily high. Sacrifices have been far too great … We know that there will be difficult days and weeks and years ahead."
And the Ukrainian leader hailed Biden's visit, saying it shows Russia has "no chance" to win.
"This is an unequivocal signal that Russian attempts to win will have no chance," said Zelensky.
"Together we will protect our cities, our people from the terror of Russia."
Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine's Secretary of the National Security Council, believes Putin could unleash the new offensive on either February 23 or 24.
But he insisted the country is "ready" – vowing the war will end with Ukrainian tanks on Red Square.
"We will cope with this day as well. Yes, it will be difficult, but we will all get through", he said.
In a sit-down interview with The Sun in Kyiv, Danilov also described the Russian president as "Hitler's twin."
Danilov said: “Our tanks will be on Red Square and that will be justice.
“We didn’t start this war. We didn’t call them here.
“They invaded our territory, killed our women, our children, the elderly, and civilians.
“If we don’t give them a proper answer it is only a matter of time before they invade another country.”
Officially Kyiv’s war aims are to expel all Russian forces from Ukrainian soil — as defined by its 1991 borders.
Danilov said Russia was destined to self-destruct.
He said: “Putin will go down in history as the man who destroyed Russia.
“My greatest concern for the next 12 months is that the West does not understand that Russia will be fragmented.
“It is inevitable. It is like a volcano erupting.
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