Putin hit by TV blackouts after stations taken over during speech

Vladimir Putin accuses The West of ‘starting the war’

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Vladimir Putin‘s state-of-the-nation speech was disrupted online after TV stations were targeted in an apparent hack. As the Russian president was speaking the web links of main state channels, which are part of All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), were hit.

Rather than hearing from the Russian dictator, viewers were faced with a screen which said “Mistake 500” with a notice that technical works were underway.

Online coverage of the speech continued uninterrupted on channels Rossiya-1, Rossiya 24 and Rossiya-Kultura, the Mirror reports.

Radio Mayak, which was also blocked, said hackers had targeted the web channels.

Representatives of the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny claimed Putin said the websites of the Russian TV channels had been subject to a DDoS attack.

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of internet traffic, according to Cloudflare.com.

In his hour-long, rambling speech, Putin declared Russia would suspend its participation in the New START treaty, the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States.

Explaining the decision, Putin accused Washington and its NATO allies of openly declaring their goal to defeat Russia in Ukraine.

He said: “They want to inflict a ‘strategic defeat’ on us and try to get to our nuclear facilities at the same time.”

Putin argued while the US has pushed for the resumption of inspections of Russian nuclear facilities under the treaty, NATO allies had helped Ukraine mount drone attacks on Russian air bases hosting nuclear-capable strategic bombers.


He said: “The drones used for it were equipped and modernized with NATO’s expert assistance.

“And now they want to inspect our defence facilities? In the conditions of today’s confrontation, it sounds like sheer nonsense.”

Putin emphasised Russia is suspending its involvement in the New START treaty, but not entirely withdrawing from the pact yet.

The treaty, signed in 2010 by US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.

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The agreement includes sweeping, on-site inspections to check its terms are being met.

Just days before the treaty was due to expire in February 2021, Russia and the United States agreed to extend it for five more years.

Putin’s speech repeated a litany of grievances the Russian leader has frequently rolled out as justification for his widely condemned war.

He said Russia is not fighting the Ukrainian people in the speech which comes days before the war’s first anniversary on Friday.

The Russian president claimed Ukraine has become a hostage of the regime in Kyiv and its Western masters, which “have effectively occupied the country”.

Putin accused the West of launching “aggressive information attacks” and taking aim at Russian culture, religion and values.

He claimed Western countries were doing this because they are aware that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield.

He also accused Western nations of waging an attack on Russia’s economy with sanctions — but declared they had not achieved anything and will not achieve anything.

Analysts expected Putin’s speech to be tough in the wake of US President Joe Biden‘s visit to Kyiv on Monday.

Mr Biden is due to give his own speech today (February 21) in Poland. He is expected to highlight the commitment of the central European country and other allies to Ukraine over the past year.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Mr Biden’s address would not be some kind of head-to-head with Putin’s.

He said: “This is not a rhetorical contest with anyone else.”

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