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‘No one can sit out the coming storm’: Putin’s milestone Valdai speech

The world is entering a decade of tumult as the pursuit of a more just world order clashes with the arbitrary hegemony of the collective West, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, addressing the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club.

Putin’s speech ranged from biodiversity to “cancel culture,” the nature of what the West has to offer and Russia’s response, followed by hours of answering audience questions. Here are six key points from his opening remarks.

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The West stokes conflict to preserve hegemony

From inciting conflict in Ukraine and provocations around Taiwan to destabilizing the world food and energy markets, the US and its allies have been escalating tensions around the globe in recent years and especially in recent months, Putin said.

READ MORE: The US has nothing left to offer the world – Putin

“Ruling the world is what the so-called West has staked in this game, which is certainly dangerous, bloody and – I would say – dirty. It denies the sovereignty of countries and peoples, their identity and uniqueness, and disregards any interests of other states,” the Russian president explained. In their so-called “rules-based world order,” only those making the “rules” have any agency, while everyone else must simply obey.

However, the West has “no constructive ideas and positive development, they simply have nothing to offer the world except the preservation of their dominance.”

Rules for thee but not for me

The West insists its culture and worldview should be universal, Putin said. While not saying it outright, they behave as if these values must be unconditionally accepted by everyone else.

Yet when some other countries, notably China, began benefiting from globalization, the West “immediately changed or completely canceled” many of the rules it long insisted were set in stone and sacred, Putin said, with free trade, economic openness, fair competition and even property rights “suddenly forgotten at once, completely.”

“As soon as something becomes profitable for themselves, they change the rules immediately, on the go, in the course of the game.”

“Cancel culture” and canceling culture

Believing themselves infallible, the rulers of the West desire to destroy – or “cancel” – those they dislike. Where Nazis burned books, the Western “guardians of liberalism and progress” now ban Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky, Putin said. Liberal democracy has transformed into something unrecognizable, declaring any alternative viewpoint as propaganda or a threat, he added. The so-called “cancel culture” destroys anything that is alive and creative, preventing any freedom of thought in culture, economics or politics alike.

READ MORE: Putin reveals his thoughts on gender theory

“History, of course, will put everything in its place,” Putin said, adding that the the self-conceit of those who seek to cancel them is off the charts, “but no one will even remember their names in a few years, while Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky and Pushkin will endure.”

Russia does not seek domination

Russia is an “independent, original civilization” and “has never considered itself an enemy of the West,” Putin said. Since antiquity, it has had ties with the West of traditional Christian and Muslim values, freedom, patriotism, and a rich culture. There is another West, however – “an aggressive, cosmopolitan, neocolonialist, acting as a tool of neoliberal elites,” Putin said, “whose dictates Russia will never accept.”

READ MORE: Russia is not an enemy of the West – Putin

Even so, Russia is not throwing a gauntlet to the elites of that West, but “simply defends its right to exist and develop freely. At the same time, we ourselves are not seeking to become some kind of new hegemon,” Putin said. 

Western hegemony is ending

“We are standing at a historic milestone, ahead of what is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and at the same time important decade since the end of World War II. The West is not able to single-handedly manage humanity, but is desperately trying to do it, and most of the peoples of the world no longer want to put up with it,” Putin said. 

Conflicts arising from this tumult are threatening the entire humanity, and constructively resolving them is the principal challenge ahead, according to the Russian leader.

No one can sit out the coming storm, which has acquired a global character, Putin said. Humanity has two choices, “either to continue to accumulate a burden of problems that will inevitably crush us all, or to try together to find solutions, albeit imperfect, but working, capable of making our world safer and more stable.”

What multipolar world should look like

In a truly democratic multipolar world, any society, culture and civilization should have the right to choose its own path and socio-political system. If the US and Europe have that right, so should everyone else. Russia also has it, “and no one will ever be able to dictate to our people what kind of society we should build and on what principles.”

READ MORE: Putin calls for ‘dialogue on equal terms’ with the West

The biggest threat to the political, economic, and ideological monopoly of the West is that alternative social models may arise in the world – and would be more effective and more attractive.

“Above all, we believe that the new world order should be based on law and justice, be free, authentic and fair,” the Russian president said.

“The future world order is being formed before our eyes. And in this world order, we must listen to everyone, take into account every point of view, every nation, society, culture, every system of worldviews, ideas and religious beliefs, without imposing a single truth on anyone, and only on this basis, understanding our responsibility for the fate of our peoples and the planet, to build a symphony of human civilization.”

 

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