Russia’s Putin To Address Nation as Mass Navalny Protests Are Planned

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to address the nation on Wednesday in his annual “State of the Nation” address, a speech that will take place amid growing tensions with Ukraine and a hunger strike by dissident Alexei Navalny, CNBC reported.

In the last week, there have been further reports that Russian troops are massing at the border with Ukraine, potentially preparing for military action.

Navalny, on hunger strike in a Russian prison, has become dangerously ill and has been moved to a prison hospital. The news prompted warnings from the U.S. that there would be “consequences” if Russia allows Navalny to die in jail.

In addition, Russia has been accused of orchestrating an attack on a Czech armaments dump in 2014, with the Czech Republic expelling 18 Russian diplomats this week. Russia denies that two of its military intelligence agents — the same men believed to have carried out a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain in 2018 — carried out the Czech attack, but the news has nonetheless added to the negative news flow around Putin’s Russia.

Last week, the U.S. imposed more sanctions on Russia over 2020 election interference, a cyberattack on U.S. government and corporate networks, its annexation and occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea, and human rights abuses.

Whether Putin will address such recent events in his annual address on Wednesday is uncertain. Although, as Daragh McDowell, head of Europe and principal Russia analyst at Verisk Maplecroft noted Tuesday, the speech has often been “the set piece for major policy announcements.”

he address usually covers a wide range of topics, from the economy and defense to education and family life. The coronavirus pandemic is bound to be on the agenda, too, with the virus hitting the country hard over the past year.

Russia’s plans when it comes to foreign policy and geopolitical relations are bound to be closely watched by experts, particularly when it comes to its neighbor Ukraine.

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