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What's true and what's false in Russian President Vladimir Putin's state of the nation speech

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he gives his annual state of the nation address in Moscow, Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he gives his annual state of the nation address in Moscow, Russia Copyright Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik
Copyright Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik
By Sophia KhatsenkovaThe Cube
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Euronews fact-checked Putin's long-awaited speech to the nation. Here's what was true and what was false.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his long-awaited annual state of the nation address on Tuesday, just days before the one-year anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

In his two-hour-long speech, Putin slammed the West and also made a series of claims.

So what’s true and what’s false? Let’s take a closer look at some of the statements made by the Russian President.

"Russia's economy withstood Western sanctions"

One of the main themes of Putin’s speech was lauding the Russian economy. He claimed that Russia’s GDP decreased by only 2.1% after Western sanctions were imposed, according to the country’s statistics agency, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted a 12% fall.

It's true that the percentage announced by Putin is close to the 2.2% estimate in the latest report from the IMF.

However, Russia is still the worst-performing country but the numbers are nowhere close to what experts predicted.

But some analysts are raising questions about the reliability of the data provided by the Russian authorities.

“It's true that experts are waiting for much worse results starting from the beginning of the war," said Nikolai Petrov, Russia expert at Chatham House.

"It's also true that the government is cheating. It's not by chance that the latest figure of very modest decline of Russian GDP came yesterday, although it was supposed to come much earlier. It was designed to present this very positive view of what's going on in the Russian economy," he told Euronews.

The IMF’s explanation for the low percentage: Russian trade has been redirected to non-sanctioning countries such as China and India. High oil prices and military spending have also helped the economy.

"The West spent $150 billion on Ukraine but only $60 billion on developing nations"

Another claim Euronews fact-checked is that the West spent more than 150 billion dollars to help Ukraine but the G7 countries only gave 60 billion dollars to the poorest nations in the world between 2020 and 2021.

Looking at different tools including the Ukraine support tracker, we found that it’s true the West has pledged approximately 143.6 billion dollars as of January 2023.

But when looking at the OECD statistics on aid to other developing countries, the president’s statements are far from true.

In 2021, the G7 contribution amounted to approximately 128 billion dollars in aid - more than twice as much as Putin claims.

"Ukrainian Edelweiss brigade is named after a Nazi division"

Finally, Vladimir Putin slammed a brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine called "Edelweiss”, saying that this name was used by Nazis during the Holocaust.

The brigade was recently honoured by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

But a few years ago in Russia, the Internal Troops (which joined the Russian National Guard) also had their own Edelweiss unit, until they changed its name in 2016.

Another Edelweiss unit was created as part of the special forces of the Altai Republic in Southern Siberia in 1993 and existed at least until 2018.

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