PUTIN AT VALDAI
I was alerted to this speech by the usual email from a regular reader and article-submitter here, K.M., and I decided to go to the original text of the speech and not the Twitter tweet which references it. The speech was given by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin at this year's Valdai conference, and it's worth reading in full, the more so because of the warning it contains:
Shortly into his speech, Putin comes directly to the point, and addresses the off-the-charts hubris of the West and the United States, whom he now addresses, let it be noted, no longer in the terminology of "our partners in the West" but as "our so-called partners in the West"; in other words, the former era of pretended good-will between Russia and the West is over:
When we met for the first time at the club’s meeting nearly 20 years ago, our country was entering a new stage in its development. Russia was emerging from an extremely difficult period of convalescence after the Soviet Union’s dissolution. We launched the process of building a new and what we saw as a more just world order energetically and with good will. It is a boon that our country can make a huge contribution because we have things to offer to our friends, partners and the world as a whole.Regrettably, our interest in constructive interaction was misunderstood, was seen as obedience, as an agreement that the new world order would be created by those who declared themselves the winners in the Cold War. It was seen as an admission that Russia was ready to follow in others’ wake and not to be guided by our own national interests but by somebody else’s interests.Over these years, we warned more than once that this approach would not only lead to a dead-end but that it was fraught with the increasing threat of a military conflict. But nobody listened to us or wanted to listen to us. The arrogance of our so-called partners in the West went through the roof. This is the only way I can put it.
The history of the West is essentially the chronicle of endless expansion. Western influence in the world is an immense military and financial pyramid scheme that constantly needs more “fuel” to support itself, with natural, technological and human resources that belong to others. This is why the West simply cannot and is not going to stop. Our arguments, reasoning, calls for common sense or proposals have simply been ignored.
I have said this publicly to both our allies and partners. There was a moment when I simply suggested: perhaps we should also join NATO? But no, NATO does not need a country like ours. No. I want to know, what else do they need? We thought we became part of the crowd, got a foot in the door. What else were we supposed to do? There was no more ideological confrontation. What was the problem? I guess the problem was their geopolitical interests and arrogance towards others. Their self-aggrandisement was and is the problem.
We are compelled to respond to ever-increasing military and political pressure. I have said many times that it was not us who started the so-called “war in Ukraine.” On the contrary, we are trying to end it. It was not us who orchestrated a coup in Kiev in 2014 – a bloody and anti-constitutional coup. When [similar events] happen in other places, we immediately hear all the international media – mainly those subordinate to the Anglo-Saxon world, of course – this is unacceptable, this is impossible, this is anti-democratic. But the coup in Kiev was acceptable. They even cited the amount of money spent on this coup. Anything was suddenly acceptable.At that time, Russia tried its best to support the people of Crimea and Sevastopol. We did not try to overthrow the government or intimidate the people in Crimea and Sevastopol, threatening them with ethnic cleansing in the Nazi spirit. It was not us who tried to force Donbass to obey by shelling and bombing. We did not threaten to kill anyone who wanted to speak their native language. Look, everyone here is an informed and educated person. It might be possible – excuse my ‘mauvais ton’ – to brainwash millions of people who perceive reality through the media. But you must know what was really going on: they have been bombing the place for nine years, shooting and using tanks. That was a war, a real war unleashed against Donbass. And no one counted the dead children in Donbass. No one cried for the dead in other countries, especially in the West.This war, the one that the regime sitting in Kiev started with the vigorous and direct support from the West, has been going on for more than nine years, and Russia’s special military operation is aimed at stopping it. And it reminds us that unilateral steps, no matter who takes them, will inevitably prompt retaliation. As we know, every action has an equal opposite reaction. That is what any responsible state, every sovereign, independent and self-respecting country does.
Everyone realises that in an international system where arbitrariness reigns, where all decision-making is up to those who think they are exceptional, sinless and right, any country can be attacked simply because it is disliked by a hegemon, who has lost any sense of proportion – and I would add, any sense of reality.Unfortunately, we have to admit that our counterparties in the West have lost their sense of reality and have crossed every line. They really should not have done this.
A bloc-based approach, if we call a spade a spade, limits individual states’ rights and restricts their freedom to develop along their own path, attempting to drive them into a “cage” of obligations. In a way, this obviously amounts to the dispossession of part of their sovereignty, often followed by the enforcement of their own solutions not only in the area of security but also in other areas, primarily the economy... .
I will say more: for centuries, such behavior led to the replication of one thing – big wars, with various ideological and quasi-moral justifications invented to justify these wars. Today this is especially dangerous. As you know, humankind (sic) has the means to easily destroy the whole planet, and ongoing mind manipulation, unbelievable in terms of scale, leads to losing a sense of reality.
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