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

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In a major foreign policy speech on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked familiar grievances and criticisms of hegemonic “Western elites” as he offered Asian leaders and conservative groups in the United States and Europe.

Putin also blamed the West for the war in Ukraine, which he began with an all-out invasion in February, and insisted that Washington could end the conflict by guiding the Ukrainian government to seek peace.

In a speech delivered at the annual meeting of the Valdai Dialogue Club in Moscow, Putin hailed Russia as a champion of emerging nations in the new multipolar world and called on the United States and other Western powers to respect them as equals. And, following common ground with the far-right in the West, he described Russia as a defender of traditional Christian values ​​because society has lost its way.

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

Indeed, it is Russia that is deeply isolated as a result of Putin’s brutal aggression, and his attempt to illegally annex four regions of Ukraine in violation of international law. Earlier this month, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly not to recognize Putin’s annexations, urging him to reverse course. The results were 143 to 5 with 35 abstentions. The four countries that sided with Russia are Belarus, Nicaragua, North Korea and Syria.

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Ksenia Sobchak, a Russian star linked to Putin, fled using an Israeli passport

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

Despite making competition with the West a cornerstone of his foreign policy and a daily talking point, Putin emphasized that Russia does not fundamentally see itself as an enemy of the West, but instead with the West’s efforts to instill “strange” and “neoliberal” It is against. Values ​​in other societies of the world

According to Putin, these alien values ​​include “abolitionist culture”, “dozens of gay parades” and the right to express gender identity.

On Thursday, Russia’s lower house unanimously approved a law banning the “advertisement of non-traditional sexual relations” among Russian citizens and imposing 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” to which Russia is close. “But there is another West,” he continued, “an aggressive, cosmopolitan, neocolonial, West that serves as a tool of the neoliberal elite.” And Russia, of course, will never exactly come to terms with the dictates of this West.”

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During the nearly three-hour speech and question-and-answer session, Putin made far-fetched claims, including that the West instigated the war in Ukraine.

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Emphasizing that Moscow does not interfere in the affairs of other countries, Putin said: “Unlike the West, we do not go into other people’s yards.”

Over the past 15 years, Russia has invaded two of its neighbors, Ukraine and Georgia, mediated militarily in Syria, and spent millions of dollars on political influence in Albania, Bosnia, Montenegro, and other countries.

Putin once again condemned US President Donald Trump’s order to assassinate Qassem Soleimani, the top general of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, whom the Pentagon blames for attacks on American citizens. Putin said: Soleimani was killed on the soil of another country and they said: Yes, we killed him. “What is that? What kind of world do we live in?”

Russia has been accused of orchestrating attacks against several Kremlin critics abroad, from the assassination of Chechens in Germany to the poisoning of former secret service agents and defectors in London. Alexei Navalny, a leading critic of Putin, is imprisoned in Russia after surviving a poison attack.

“Everything that comes from Russia is always called ‘Kremlin machinations,'” Putin said. “But look at yourself! Are we that powerful? Any criticism of our opponents is seen as “Kremlin’s hand”, but not everything can be blamed. [us.]”

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

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The panel’s moderator, political analyst Fyodor Lukyanov, pressed Putin on whether Moscow had underestimated its opposition in Ukraine, an allusion to the battlefield defeats the Russian military has suffered in recent weeks and the overall pace of the war. which is now in its ninth month despite the Kremlin’s initial expectation that it would quickly seize Kyiv.

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“The community does not understand – what is the plan in this operation?” Lukyanov went on to point to growing discontent with Moscow’s military strategy and an unpopular mobilization drive that sent 300,000 or more into military service but sent nearly hundreds of thousands more fleeing the country to avoid being drafted.

Putin rejected this criticism. He said that due to the sending of Western weapons to Ukraine and the “building of fortified areas”, the balance on the battlefield would worsen for Russia in the future.

Putin also repeated Russia’s unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine was preparing to use a “dirty bomb” containing radioactive material. Western leaders have dismissed the charge as false and a potential pretext for Russia to escalate the war with its own use of such weapons.

In previous statements, Putin has often said he is ready to use “all available tools,” referring to Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal, but he stressed Thursday that Russia has never openly threatened to use nuclear weapons and has no need to. This has not happened in Ukraine.

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

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