Putin insists U.S. respect ‘multipolar’ world and tell Kyiv to seek peace

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Russian President Vladimir Putin recited familiar laments and criticisms of the hegemonic “Western elite” as he delivered an ideological pitch to Asian leaders and conservative groups in the United States and Europe during a foreign policy speech on Thursday.

Putin also blamed the West for the war in Ukraine that began with a large-scale invasion in February and insisted that Washington could end the conflict by directing the Ukrainian government to seek peace.

In the speech, delivered at the annual meeting of the Valdai Debating Club in Moscow, Putin portrayed Russia as a champion of rising nations in a new multipolar world, which called for the United States and others Western powers begin to respect them as equals. And looking for common ground with the right in the West, he described Russia as a defender of traditional Christian values ​​that society has lost its way.

“I am convinced that sooner or later the new centers of a multipolar world order and the West should start an equal conversation about a common future for us, and the sooner the better, of course,” Putin said. He added that he believes the West is losing its dominance and is “rapidly becoming a minority on the world stage.”

In reality, it is Russia that has grown very isolated due to Putin’s brutal invasion, and his attempt to illegally annex four regions of Ukraine in violation of international law. Earlier this month, the United Nations General Assembly voted by a large margin not to recognize Putin’s annexations and called on him to reverse course. The results were 143 to 5 with 35 abstentions. The four countries alongside Russia were Belarus, Nicaragua, North Korea and Syria.

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The Kremlin boasted that future generations would “read and re-read” the speech, but on Thursday, Putin spoke to a mixed crowd of guests from India, Pakistan, China and Indonesia, as well as fringe politicians pro -Kremlin from Moldova who asked him contemptuous questions. about his vision for the post-conflict world, post-American hegemony. There were few Westerners in the audience.

Although rivalry with the West has become a staple of his foreign policy and daily talking points, Putin has insisted that Russia does not fundamentally see itself as the West’s enemy, but instead he opposes the West’s attempts to inculcate “strange” and “neoliberal”. values ​​in other societies around the world.

These foreign values, according to Putin, include “erasure of culture”, “dozens of gay parades” and the right to express gender identity.

On Thursday, the lower house of the Russian parliament unanimously adopted a law that prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among Russian citizens and imposes heavy fines for mentioning the LGBTQ+ community in public.

“There are at least two Wests,” Putin said. One is the West of “traditional values, mainly Christian, freedom, patriotism, the richest culture” that Russia is close to. “But there is another West – aggressive, cosmopolitan, neocolonial, the one that acts as a tool of the neoliberal elites,” he continued. “And Russia, of course, will never exactly put up with the dictates of this West.”

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In the nearly three-hour speech and question-and-answer session, Putin made a number of outlandish claims, including that the West instigated the war in Ukraine.

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“Unlike the West, we do not crawl into someone else’s backyard,” Putin said, asserting that Moscow does not interfere in the affairs of other states.

In the last 15 years, Russia has invaded two of its neighbors, Ukraine and Georgia, intervened militarily in Syria, and spent millions to curry political favor in Albania, Bosnia, Montenegro and other countries.

Putin once again mentioned the assassination ordered by US President Donald Trump of Qasem Soleimani, a top general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, whom the Pentagon blamed for attacks on American citizens. “They killed Soleimani on the territory of another state and they said: ‘yes, we killed,'” Putin said. “Who is what? What world do we live in?”

Russia has been accused of orchestrating attacks on many critics of the Kremlin abroad, from the murders of Chechens in Germany to the poisoning of former secret service agents and defections in London. Putin’s biggest critic, Alexei Navalny, is jailed in Russia after surviving a poisoning attack.

“What comes from Russia is always labeled as ‘Kremlin intrigue,'” Putin said. “But look at yourself! Are we that powerful? Any criticism of our opponents is perceived as “the hand of the Kremlin”, but you can’t just blame everything. [us.]”

In recent years, Putin’s government has become increasingly repressive, cracking down on political opposition figures, journalists, activists and scholars – labeling hundreds as “foreign agents”.

Russia’s methodical attacks exploit the fragility of the Ukrainian power system

The panel’s moderator, political analyst Fedor Lukyanov, pressed Putin on whether Moscow has underestimated its adversaries in Ukraine, an implicit reference to the battlefield struggles suffered by the Russian military in recent weeks and the general pace of the war that is now entering its ninth month despite the Kremlin’s initial expectation that it would quickly capture Kiev.

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“Society does not understand – what is the plan in this operation?” Lukyanov continued, alluding to the brewing discontent with Moscow’s military strategy and an unpopular mobilization that enlisted 300,000 or more but sent nearly hundreds of thousands more fleeing the country to avoid being sent to fight.

Putin dismissed the criticism. He said that the balance on the battlefield would be worse for Russia in the future given the Western supply of weapons to Ukraine and “the construction of fortified areas”.

Putin also repeated Russia’s unsupported claims that Ukraine was preparing to use a “dirty bomb” containing radioactive material. Western leaders have rejected this accusation as false and a potential pretext for Russia to escalate the war for its own use of such a weapon.

In previous remarks, Putin has often said he is willing to use “all available means,” hinting at Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal, but he insisted on Thursday that Russia had never openly threatened to use nuclear weapons and had not no need to do it in Ukraine.

Putin repeated his false accusations of state-sponsored “Nazism” in Kiev, and insisted that the United States could end the war. “Those who implement the policy in Washington can solve the problem of Ukraine very quickly through diplomacy,” he said. “They just need to send a signal to Kiev to change their attitude and strive for peace talks.”

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