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

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Russian President Vladimir Putin recited the usual complaints and criticisms of the hegemonic “Western elite” while presenting the views of Asian leaders and conservative groups in the United States and Europe during a key foreign policy speech on Thursday.

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

In the speech, which was presented at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow, Putin presented Russia as a champion of emerging nations in the new multipolar world, which requires the United States and other Western powers to begin to respect each other equally. And seeking a common place with the right wing in the West, he described Russia as the defender of Christian traditions as humanity has lost its way.

“I am sure that sooner or later both the new centers of the multilateral world order and the West will have to start a balanced conversation about a common future for us, and the sooner the better,” Putin said. He added that he believed the West was losing its dominance and “quickly became a minority on the world stage.”

In fact, it is Russia that has grown increasingly isolated due to Putin’s brutal aggression, and his attempts to illegally seize four Ukrainian territories in violation of international law. Earlier this month, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly not to recognize Putin’s amendments and asked him to back down. The results were 143 to 5 and 35 to no sleep. The four countries next to 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 addressed a crowd from India, Pakistan, China and Indonesia and Kremlin politicians from Moldova asked him tough questions. about his vision of a post-conflict, post-American world hegemony. There were few Westerners in the audience.

Despite making rivalry with the West a cornerstone of his foreign policy and his daily talking points, Putin emphasized that Russia does not see itself as an enemy of the West but instead opposes Western efforts to impose “extraordinary” and “neoliberal” values ​​in other parts of the world.

These strange customs, according to Putin, include “culture of withdrawal,” “homosexual gatherings” and the right to express one’s identity.

On Thursday, the lower house of the Russian parliament unanimously adopted a law banning the “dissemination of illegal sexual relations” among Russian citizens and imposing severe penalties for mentioning the LGBTQ+ community in public.

“There are at least two Wests,” Putin said. One is the “traditional, primarily Christian, values, freedom, patriotism, rich culture” West that is close to Russia. “But there is another West – violent, cosmopolitan, neocolonial, which serves as a tool for neoliberal elites,” he continued. “And Russia, of course, will never exactly tolerate the dictates of the West.”

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In a nearly three-hour speech and question-and-answer session, Putin made several claims, including that the West caused the war in Ukraine.

“Unlike the West, we don’t ride in someone else’s yard,” Putin said, adding that Moscow does not interfere in other countries’ affairs.

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

Putin also criticized US President Donald Trump’s assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a top general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, who was blamed by the Pentagon for the attack on American civilians. “They killed Soleimani on the territory of another country and said: ‘yes, we killed him,'” Putin said. “What is that? What country do we live in?”

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

“Anything from Russia is always labeled as ‘Kremlin abuse,'” Putin said. “But look at yourself! Are we that strong? Any criticism of our opponents is seen as ‘Kremlin’s hand,’ but you can’t blame everything. [us.]”

In recent years, Putin’s government has grown increasingly repressive, targeting political dissidents, journalists, activists and students – labeling hundreds as “foreign agents.”

Russia’s conventional offensive exploits the vulnerability of Ukraine’s energy system

The panel’s moderator, political analyst Fedor Lukyanov, pressed Putin about Moscow’s undermining of its opponents in Ukraine, a clear reference to the setbacks the Russian military has faced in recent weeks and the pace of the war, which is now in its ninth month. The Kremlin’s initial expectation is that it will capture Kyiv quickly.

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“The public does not understand – what is the plan in this work?” Lukyanov continued, referring to dissatisfaction with Moscow’s military system and an unpopular campaign that mobilized 300,000 or more people but sent nearly hundreds of thousands fleeing the country to avoid being sent off to fight.

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

Putin also repeated unsubstantiated Russian claims that Ukraine was preparing to use a “dirty bomb” containing radioactive material. Western leaders have dismissed the accusation as nonsense and as a reason for Russia’s escalation of the war with its use of the weapon.

In previous remarks, Putin has said he is ready to use “all available means,” referring to Russia’s large nuclear arsenal, but insisted Thursday that Russia has not openly threatened to use nuclear weapons and there is no need to do so in Ukraine.

Putin repeated his false accusations of state-sponsored “Nazism” in Kyiv, and insisted that the United States could end the war. “Policymakers in Washington can resolve the Ukraine crisis 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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