Putin lowering the boom at the Valdai International Discussion Club.
What He Wants to Believe' (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland)
strange, it seems that the Russian president himself believes in what the
Kremlin's propagandists say on TV. Moreover, it's as if he also believed that
his guests - prominent Western experts and policy makers - were ready to accept
the point of view of Rossiya 1 … A good number of them would likely
agree that Washington, as they say in Russia, 'broke some trees,' and is
responsible for a good deal of nonsense. But the view of Russia as an empire of
the good - few are ready to accept. … Putin lives in a reality he himself
created - and that is very dangerous."
The president warned his invited guests to the so called Valdai
International Discussion Club, which meets every year, that what they were
about to hear might sound "too brutal." Yet the world-renowned politicians,
political scientists and pundits admitted afterwards that even with that
forewarning, they never expected to hear something that would make Putin's
famous 2007 "Munich speech" pale by comparison.
In Bavaria, at the 2007 Munich Security Conference, the
Kremlin tenant accused the U.S. of creating "new lines of division"
in Europe and of infringing on territories that Moscow considered within its
sphere of influence (watch below).
At the Valdai Club on Sept. 24, Putin argued that America,
believing itself to be "the only center of power"
in the world, had destroyed the global security system which had been based on
mutual "respect" among key partners. According to the Russian
president, Washington is responsible for instigating military conflict, for the
plague of terrorism and drug addiction - in short, for sowing chaos around the
All this is due to American self-righteousness. They consider
themselves an exceptional nation and are incapable of understanding the
consequences of their actions. The United States, according to the Russian
president, first "courts radicals and terrorists" and then finds
itself in military conflicts with them.
"We sometimes get the impression that our colleagues
and friends are constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies,
throw all their effort into addressing the risks they themselves have created,
and pay an ever-greater price," Putin said. He added that Washington "is
blackmailing" allied leaders and keeping them under constant surveillance,
forcing them to be loyal and act contrary the interests of their own countries.
Putin presented his own country's conduct in a completely different light. "The allegations and statements that Russia is trying
to establish some sort of empire, encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbors,
are groundless. Russia does not need any kind of special, exclusive place in
the world – I want to emphasize this. While respecting the interests of others,
we simply want for our own interests to be taken into account and for our
position to be respected," explained Putin.
According to him, Moscow's priorities are clear and
understandable for all: they consist of "further improving our democratic
and open economy institutions … This agenda is aimed at developing ties between
governments, not dissociating. We are not planning to cobble together any blocs
or get involved in an exchange of blows," Putin said.
However strange, it seems that the Russian president himself
believes in what the Kremlin's propagandists say on TV. Moreover, it's as if he
also believed that his guests - prominent Western experts and policy makers - were
ready to accept the point of view of Rossiya 1 [a
state-owned TV channel].
A good number of them would likely agree that Washington, as
they say in Russia, "broke some trees," and is responsible for a good
deal of nonsense. But the view of Russia as an empire of the good - few are
ready to accept.
Guests at the 11 annual meeting of the Valdai Club would have
also liked to hear Putin's opinion about other issues, such as his tightening
the screws on Russia's "democratic and open economy institutions," or
about the continuing presence of Russian troops in east Ukraine. Asked a
question on this very topic by a Financial
Times reporter, the Russian president simply ignored the question.
Putin lives in a reality he himself created - and that is very