With all the subtlety and nuance of a sledgehammer, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a stark warning this week to those in his own country who might disagree with his war in Ukraine.

If the television address was to bolster support for the ongoing "special military operation" as the Kremlin prefers to describe it, the growing anger displayed by President Putin left Russians in no doubt on his view of those "traitors" who he sees as having divided loyalties.

Mr Putin, battling international opprobrium and crushing economic sanctions, drew even more battle lines as he told anyone who disagreed with him they would be considered "traitors and scum".

Russians who are more in tune with the West than the mother country are the very people who could destroy Russia, and that will not be allowed to happen, the President warned.

"Of course they [the West] will try to bet on the so-called fifth column, on traitors - on those who earn their money here, but live over there. Live, not in the geographical sense, but in the sense of their thoughts, their slavish thinking," he said, after three weeks of Russia's war with Ukraine.

There have been no shortage of bitter tirades from Mr Putin against the West in recent times, but even by those standards this week's comments are striking.

"Any people, and especially the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish the true patriots from the scum and the traitors, and just spit them out like a midge that accidentally flew into their mouths."

The Trial of the Twenty-One, Moscow, 1938. The Trial of the Twenty-One was the last of a series of show trials of prominent Bolsheviks during Stalin's Great Purge

It drew immediate comparisons with the show trials of Joseph Stalin as part of the Great Purge of the 1930s.

The message simple and brutal - those who are not with me are against me.

For a president who has clamped down on opposition politicians and independent media, it was seen as a stark warning that even more repression is on the way.

The vitriol with which Mr Putin spoke of the need for a "self-cleansing of society" sent a message to those opposed to the Russian war with Ukraine that they should fear what lies ahead.

But who specifically was he talking to? Was this a message directed at the few opposition politicians left in Russia, or at oligarchs who oppose the sanctions and limitations the war has brought to their lifestyles, or at those in Mr Putin’s inner circle who may fear how the war is going?

It seems to be a message directed at all of those, and more. Andrei Kolesnikov, a political analyst at Carnegie’s Moscow Centre, described it as Orwellian. "Putin...has divided the citizens of Russia into clean and unclean," he wrote.

Further repression hardly seems possible, but of course it always is.

A law introduced in Russia earlier this month makes criticism of the war in Ukraine punishable by up to 15 years in prison, with thousands arrested for public protests in recent weeks, some of whom simply held up blank pieces of paper.

In a society where dissent has been consistently quashed over two decades, few believe any change in the Russian position will come from a groundswell of anti-Putin sentiment and protest.

That’s why the influence of those close to Mr Putin is viewed as key to getting the Russian President to change his mind.

His comments on Wednesday though are surely enough to give second thoughts to anyone who might have considered questioning him, either in public or private.

And those with the courage to do that were already few and far between, as the Russian leader has built a circle of advisers around him not known for suggesting Mr Putin is wrong.

The President's comments could also be taken as a sign that economic sanctions are now being felt in myriad ways across Russia.

While Mr Putin railed against those who "have villas in Miami or the French Riviera, those who can’t live without foie gras, oysters or so-called gender freedoms" he was also sending a message that those at home who complain about the economic cost of war. They live in the West not geographically but "in the sense of their thoughts," as he said.

The unpatriotic and "expendable", as Mr Putin described them, are those not prepared to endure hardship for the greater good of Russia.

His barbs could just as easily have been targeted at those Russians who lined up to get into IKEA before it closed its Russian stores, as at those living in Miami or France.

For all Russians life is changing, in ways they, and we, can’t fully comprehend yet.

Economic sanctions may return many people’s lives to a time they thought was gone forever, cut off from elements of Western life to which they had become accustomed.

Mr Putin’s speech this week shows that whatever that future holds, he expects blind loyalty, and will do whatever he has to do to get it.