Moscow, February 21: In his State of the Nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday has blamed the West and Ukraine for starting the war and added that "we are using force to stop it".

In his address to the Federal Assembly, which was the first since April 2021, the President said that "Ukraine and Donbas have become a symbol of total lies" and accused the West of withdrawing from "fundamental agreements" and giving "hypocritical statements" as well as expanding the NATO defence alliance and "covering us with an umbrella", reports the BBC.

"I want to repeat: it is them who are culpable for the war, and we are using force to stop it," he said. Putin also claimed that Russia tried to settle the conflict in Ukraine's separatist Donbas region by peaceful means. Vladimir Putin Chides Western Countries, Defends Russia's Ukraine Invasion in Major Speech.

"We were doing everything possible to solve this problem peacefully, negotiating a peaceful way out of this difficult conflict, but behind our backs a very different scenario was being prepared.

"They (the West) were just playing for time, closing their eyes to political assassinations, mistreatment of believers," he said. The Russian leader also continued to refer to the launch of his so-called "special operation" -- what the Kremlin calls the invasion of Ukraine.

He also repeated assertion without evidence that Russia was facing a Nazi threat, along with "constant threats and hatred" from the Kiev government. Putin further claimed that Ukraine was waiting for Russia to come to their assistance.

Video of Vladimir Putin State of the Nation Address 2023:

As he continued his tirade against the West, the President said: "Human sacrifice and tragedies are not accounted by them... They must carry on stealing from everyone, disguising themselves with slogans of democracy and freedom.

"Their aim is to direct aggression eastwards and eliminate competition. The West wants to grow a local conflict into a global one." With reference to the domestic impacts of the war, Putin thanked teachers, builders and farmers, among others who have fought on the front line, the BBC reported. Volodymyr Zelenskyy Issues 'World War' Warning Amid Russia-Ukraine Conflict, Says There Will Be Global War 'If China Allies Itself With Russia'.

He also acknowledged people in Ukraine's separatist regions "for your decision to be with Russia, with your motherland". The President also pledged support for Russian soldiers with the creation a special government foundation whose job it will be to provide targeted aid to participants in the invasion and their families. He says it will coordinate social and medical support as well as employment and entrepreneurship and any issues will need to be settled in "real time".

The State of the Nation comes three days efore the first anniversary of Moscow's ongoing invasion of Ukraine and also a day after US President Joe Biden's historic secret trip to Kiev, during which he reaffirmed his country's support for Ukraine and promised new sanctions for Russia.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 21, 2023 05:00 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website