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The World According to Vladimir Putin
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Vladimir Putin at Valdai. Photo: Daily Sabah
Vladimir Putin at Valdai. Photo: Daily Sabah

The plenary session is the traditional highlight of the annual, must-follow Valdai Club discussions – one of Eurasia’s premier intellectual gatherings.

Vladimir Putin is a frequent keynote speaker. In Sochi this year, as I related in a previous column, the overarching theme was “global shake-up in the 21st century: the individual, values and the state.”

Putin addressed it head on, in what can already be considered one of the most important geopolitical speeches in recent memory (a so-far incomplete transcript can be found here) – certainly his strongest moment in the limelight. That was followed by a comprehensive Q&A session (starting at 4:39:00).

Predictably, assorted Atlanticists, neocons and liberal interventionists will be apoplectic. That’s irrelevant. For impartial observers, especially across the Global South, what matters is to pay very close attention to how Putin shared his worldview – including some very candid moments.

Right at the start, he evoked the two Chinese characters that depict “crisis” (as in “danger”) and “opportunity,” melding them with a Russian saying: “Fight difficulties with your mind. Fight dangers with your experience.”

This elegant, oblique reference to the Russia-China strategic partnership led to a concise appraisal of the current chessboard:

The re-alignment of the balance of power presupposes a redistribution of shares in favor of rising and developing countries that until now felt left out. To put it bluntly, the Western domination of international affairs, which began several centuries ago and, for a short period, was almost absolute in the late 20th century, is giving way to a much more diverse system.

That opened the way to another oblique characterization of hybrid warfare as the new modus operandi:

Previously, a war lost by one side meant victory for the other side, which took responsibility for what was happening. The defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War, for example, did not make Vietnam a “black hole.” On the contrary, a successfully developing state arose there, which, admittedly, relied on the support of a strong ally. Things are different now: No matter who takes the upper hand, the war does not stop, but just changes form. As a rule, the hypothetical winner is reluctant or unable to ensure peaceful post-war recovery, and only worsens the chaos and the vacuum posing a danger to the world.

A disciple of Berdyaev

In several instances, especially during the Q&A, Putin confirmed he’s a huge admirer of Nikolai Berdyaev. It’s impossible to understand Putin without understanding Berdyaev (1874-1948), who was a philosopher and theologian – essentially, a philosopher of Christianity.

In Berdyaev’s philosophy of history, the meaning of life is defined in terms of the spirit, compared with secular modernity’s emphasis on economics and materialism. No wonder Putin was never a Marxist.

For Berdyaev, history is a time-memory method through which man works toward his destiny. It’s the relationship between the divine and the human that shapes history. He places enormous importance on the spiritual power of human freedom.

Nikolai Berdyaev. Photo: Center for Sophiological Studies
Nikolai Berdyaev. Photo: Center for Sophiological Studies

Putin made several references to freedom, to family – in his case, of modest means – and to the importance of education; he heartily praised his apprenticeship at Leningrad State University. In parallel, he absolutely destroyed wokeism, transgenderism and cancel culture promoted “under the banner of progress.”

This is only one among a series of key passages:

We are surprised by the processes taking place in countries that used to see themselves as pioneers of progress. The social and cultural upheavals taking place in the United States and Western Europe are, of course, none of our business; we don’t interfere with them. Someone in the Western countries is convinced that the aggressive erasure of whole pages of their own history – the “reverse discrimination” of the majority in favor of minorities, or the demand to abandon the usual understanding of such basic things as mother, father, family or even the difference between the sexes – that these are, in their opinion, milestones of the movement toward social renewal.

So a great deal of his 40 minute-long speech, as well as his answers, codified some markers of what he previously defined as “healthy conservatism”:

Now that the world is experiencing a structural collapse, the importance of sensible conservatism as a basis for policy has increased many times over, precisely because the risks and dangers are multiplying and the reality around us is fragile.

Switching back to the geopolitical arena, Putin was adamant that “we are friends with China. But not against anyone.”

Geoeconomically, he once again took time to engage in a masterful, comprehensive – even passionate – explanation of how the natural gas market works, coupled with the European Commission’s self-defeating bet on the spot market, and why Nord Stream 2 is a game-changer.

Afghanistan

During the Q&A, scholar Zhou Bo from Tsinghua University addressed one of the key, current geopolitical challenges. Referring to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, he pointed out that, “if Afghanistan has a problem, the SCO has a problem. So how can the SCO, led by China and Russia, help Afghanistan?”

Putin stressed four points in his answer:

  • The economy must be restored;
  • The Taliban must eradicate drug trafficking;
  • The main responsibility should be assumed “by those who had been there for 20 years” – echoing the joint statement after the meeting between the extended troika and the Taliban in Moscow on Wednesday; and
  • Afghan state funds should be unblocked.

He also mentioned, indirectly, that the large Russian military base in Tajikistan is not a mere decorative prop.

Training bunker at Russia’s military base in Takikistan. Photo: Moscow Times
Training bunker at Russia’s military base in Takikistan. Photo: Moscow Times

Putin went back to the subject of Afghanistan during the Q&A, once again stressing that NATO members should not “absolve themselves from responsibility.”

He reasoned that the Taliban “are trying to fight extreme radicals.” On the “need to start with the ethnic component,” he described Tajiks as accounting for 47% of the overall Afghan population – perhaps an over-estimation but the message was on the imperative of an inclusive government.

He also struck a balance: As much as “we are sharing with them [the Taliban] a view from the outside,” he made the point that Russia is “in contact with all political forces” in Afghanistan – in the sense that there are contacts with former government officials like Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah and also Northern Alliance members, now in the opposition, who are self-exiled in Tajikistan.

Those pesky Russians

Now compare all of the above with the current NATO circus in Brussels, complete with a new “master plan to deter the growing Russian threat.”

ORDER IT NOW

No one ever lost money underestimating NATO’s capacity to reach the depths of inconsequential stupidity. Moscow does not even bother to talk to these clowns anymore: as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has pointed out, “Russia will no longer pretend that some changes in relations with NATO are possible in the near future.”

Moscow from now on only talks to the masters – in Washington. After all, the direct line between the Chief of General Staff, General Gerasimov, and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, General Todd Wolters, remains active. Messenger boys such as Stoltenberg and the massive NATO bureaucracy in Brussels are deemed irrelevant.

This happens, in Lavrov’s assessment, right after “all our friends in Central Asia” have been “telling us that they are against … approaches either from the United States or from any other NATO member state” promoting the stationing of any imperial “counter-terrorist” apparatus in any of the “stans” of Central Asia.

And still the Pentagon continues to provoke Moscow. Wokeism-lobbyist-cum-Secretary of Defense Lloyd “Raytheon” Austin, who oversaw the American Great Escape from Afghanistan, is now pontificating that Ukraine should de facto join NATO.

That should be the last stake impaling the “brain-dead” (copyright Emmanuel Macron) zombie, as it meets its fate raving about simultaneous Russian attacks on the Baltic and Black Seas with nuclear weapons.

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Anonymous[235] • Disclaimer says:

    Ridiculous Putin brownnosing by Escobar trying to present him as some sort of saint or visionary. In reality Russia is a wreck with terrible demographics, a GDP per capita similar to Brazil despite superior resources, life expectancy at Guatemalan or Bangladeshi levels, fertility rates that are half those of the Soviet era and a decadent culture that is in many ways worse than America or Western Europe. He’s surrounded by corrupt, parasitic oligarchs like Abramovich and Deripaska who funnel Russian wealth towards the West.

    Russia has no future and it’s only hope is that the West might collapse first.

  2. Putin is wrong to compare the current ‘wokery’ with Bolshevism. Though communism proved to be wrong, it addressed real problems and real issues. Karl Marx was trying to get at the source of social woes. Workers really did suffer in the 19th century, and the changes wrought by capitalism were harrowing for many peoples.

    In contrast, today’s ‘wokery’ is the product of capitalist decadence. It’s about narcissism of deviancy and supremacist vanities of blacks and homos fueled and fanned by Jewish Capital.

    If anything unites the ‘right’ in the US and EU with China and Russia, it’s the abject fear of Naming the Jew. Putin will go on and on about ‘gender’ and etc but he will not name the Jewish Power that is behind wokery and etc.

    Wokery is essentially Jewish use of fadicalism(which lacks the true convictions of radicalism) to fire up the young and status-anxious against whiteness. Why? Because Jewish Power rests on taming and riding the White Horse. That’s the essence of wokery. In a nutshell, it’s about Jews using Blacks as moral-and-sensual whip against the white race that are seen by Jews as dog, cattle, horse.

    Everything ‘woke’ has a Jewish angle. Why do Jews push trannies? Tranny ‘women’ are a minority among women, the real biological kind. By making majority biological women bow down before tranny women, Jews are psychologically encouraging the ideal of the majority kneeling before the minority.

    So, henceforth, we should really call use ‘Jewoke’ for ‘woke’ because Jews are the brains behind it.

    It is JeWokeness or JeWokery. Unless the Jewish aspect of ‘wokery’ is exposed, Jews will go on with this madness as THEY, the puppetmasters, are never called out.

    In WIZARD OF OZ, the curtain was pulled back and the false wizard was finally revealed. It’s time to reveal the Jewizard behind the Jewokery curtain.

    After all, if true egalitarianism has gripped the West, how come the politicians and pundits are not talking about the Zionist ‘genocide’ of Palestinians? How come US isn’t condemned for its imperialist wars that killed so many Arabs? How come there’s no expression of sympathy of victims of black crime. Many of these victims are non-white. How come there’s no discussion of how homos are prevalent in the deep state and working with CIA to destroy nations?
    How come Jews aren’t called out as the richest and most privileged people in the US?
    How come BDS isn’t supported by Democratic politicians?

  3. @Anonymous

    Russia has no future and it’s only hope is that the West might collapse first.

    True enough. The only solution for Russia and all the world is National Socialism but without the pathological radical racist nuttery and imperialism.

    The #1 source of modern woes is women compete with men for jobs. This leads to concentration of wealth in men with high paying jobs married to women with high paying jobs. Women should be allowed to study, but jobs should prioritize men.
    Only women with special talents in math and science should be given equal opportunity because they might contribute something extraordinary.

    Unless this rule is instituted, there is no future for modernity…. unless we move to cloning(of different castes) as in BRAVE NEW WORLD.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Showmethereal
  4. Anonymous[235] • Disclaimer says:
    @Priss Factor

    That’s one way of putting it. To me the biggest two issues in developed societies are that individual consumption is too high and fertility is too low (and these two are closely connected). Either way, a form of eugenics, either overt or implied/indirect is required.

    The average genetic stock of mankind is deteriorating at a very rapid pace. Fertility has been dysgenic for at least a century (since Lothrop Stoddard’s Rising Tide of Color), but it’s deteriorating much more rapidly now. Europe has a fertility of 1.5 and Africa is at 4.5 for example.

    • Replies: @PetrOldSack
  5. tesako says: • Website

    So the woke nation has future..??

    • Thanks: Realist
    • Replies: @Marshal Marlow
  6. @tesako

    Well, that’s 3rd world. Roughly equal black and white, but notably zero Asians.

  7. Levtraro says:

    Nice that Putin spoke of sensible conservatism, confirming that he is in our camp. Liberal fanatics can now proceed to hate him and bad-mouth Russia with more intensity.

    • Replies: @mulga mumblebrain
  8. Renoman says:

    Vlad Putin, leader of the free World! Ironic isn’t it that the Russian leader is light years ahead of literally all other World leaders and not by a small margin. Comparing him to Biden is like Einstein to a toddler. No wonder America’s such a mess.

    • Agree: Realist, Decoy
    • Replies: @36 ulster
  9. Mulegino1 says:

    The principal leaders of the new multi-polar world, Putin and Xi- despite their faults- stand astride the world as Brobdingnagian historical figures.

    By contrast, Brandon and the rest of his counterparts in the west appear as Lilliputian pieces of belly button lint.

  10. @Anonymous

    As far as eugenics goes:

    There is no correlation necessity between low birth rates and breeding for quality. Breeding for quality can happen across racial barriers. …to get to something feasible: count approximately thirty generations, …which leaves breeding within the racial gene pool less outer-earth’ish. Then within the racial pool, when breeding is for quantity(our muslim mufties and mullahs song line), nothing much will happen either.

    The future, is in the hands of small groups, that while for daily use breed to matches for quality(intellect, educational achievement of ancestors), and have the double ambition to enforce genetic manipulation(dis-genic steerage of the outer groups(vaccines for all of the herd as a path-way as the most hilarious example), and in-group taking advantage of eugenics. The advance of some of the real science of bio-genetics to achieve the goal of quality, and aborting all possible bad traits before birth of the off-spring.

    Seems like part of the more complete, “total war” approach, of our cousins is closest to make head-way into more of a dominant and secure position, more of a strategy that is promising. When one start to notice abundance of good looking Jews, the strategy is paying.

    Just to insist, not to convert(religions have no over-all geo-strategy as such), quality population(s) with access to great resources, is the promising herding en vogue.

  11. 36 ulster says:
    @Renoman

    He’s light-years ahead of the other “leaders” of the West as well, though Biden may have a gerontoligical excuse. The others can be divided into the merely clueless (prime- and foreign ministers)and the downright cynical (globalist bureaucrats and “philanthropists), though the latter may a few more millivolts of brainpower than the former. I don’t write this out of Schadenfreude but out of sorrow.

    • Agree: Ernesto Che
  12. JimDandy says:

    Current theory:

    Architects of Woke Goal: Get the savages firmly on the side of an authoritarian, globalist government while stripping the most potentially-nationalist demographic of power, dignity, hope. Create chaos and conflict to help pave the way for aforementioned authoritarianism.

  13. @Anonymous

    Have you been drinking or are you just insane? You just described the United States, the only difference was that you compared Russia’s GDP as similar to Brazil, whereas the United States is Brazil. High GDP per capita doesn’t mean squat. Americans might have a high GDP per capita but their food supply is overpriced, overprocessed and poisoned with chemicals and has hardly any nutrients. The Russians have access to pure clean food at a price that they can afford. The average Russian may not live in a big fancy suburban house, but almost everyone has somewhere to live. The US has millions of people living on the street! Russia doesn’t have the horrible racial problems that the US has which alone will tear it apart. Lastly, the Russians are the overwhelmingly dominant ethnic group in their country, they know who they are, have an identity and no matter what, that will hold them together as it has in the past. The US is full of people who don’t know who they are and hate themselves. I think I know which nation is on it’s way out and it isn’t Russia.

  14. ValMonde says:

    That was followed by a comprehensive Q&A session (starting at 4:39:00)

    An awful translation. Actually, the opposite of comprehensive. At moments incomprehensible or even nonexistent. It’s difficult to believe that President’s translation office would leave such a poor job online. It’s either a sabotage or a criminal incompetence.

  15. @Anonymous

    Actually, it is the poor Americans who have no future – they have to make a living in a place with no industry, no minimum wage, and no prospect of obtaining a meaningful income unless they have had the luck of being born into a family that could give them access to an elite lifestyle. And be aware that the West will collapse first — and hard
    Obviously, “Anonymous” is not aware of the Russian Government’s avoidance of debt, which America has raised to the level as the prime means to pay its needs, supplanting taxes. Nor are they aware that Russia went through its period of NeoLiberalism (private looting of the Commons), while America plunges into elitism deeper every day.
    In short, Russia had its Revolution to get rid of its yoke of Aristocracy – America has yet to even have its Revolution.

    • Agree: mulga mumblebrain
  16. @Anonymous

    Actually, it is the poor Americans who have no future – they have to make a living in a place with no industry, no minimum wage, and no prospect of obtaining a meaningful income unless they have had the luck of being born into a family that could give them access to an elite lifestyle. And be aware that the West will collapse first — and hard
    Obviously, “Anonymous” is not aware of the Russian Government’s avoidance of debt, which America has raised to the level as the prime means to pay its needs, supplanting taxes. Nor are they aware that Russia went through its period of NeoLiberalism (private looting of the Commons), while America plunges into elitism deeper every day.
    In short, Russia had its Revolution to get rid of its yoke of Aristocracy – America has yet to even have its Revolution – the first Revolution was against rule by England not by the rich.

  17. Putin and Xi are both pragmatical and down to earth guys. The Western liberals who are in the driver seats by contrast are vague ideologues with no vision other than playing rhetorical games for the media. Their ideology is that the monopolistic business practices will handle all social issues if one believes the elites. What is the use of politicians then other than to feed the businesses who are expected to feed the people. Unfortunately global business feeds the financiers a much greater piece of the pie than what the people get.

    I was once working in a lab doing actual research. When I left the lab the researchers had become contract managers feeding companies what they called “the social welfare of companies.” This is just an example. All those people use a lot of money. So the money printing press works overtime. The end result is quite predictable: inflation or devaluation of our money.

    I am currently reading a biography of Père Joseph du Tremblay who became the Éminence grise of Richelieu. He started his diplomatic career by organizing a Western coalition to attack the Turks. That coalition included Germany, Poland, the Christians of Lebanon. He was rallying Iran and he planned to send help to Ethiopa through the Congo to have them in. That was at the beginning of the 1600’s. He stayed one year in Rome rallying the diplomats there and the Pope. Doesn’t that sound familiar? The defenestration of Prague had just occured and the 30 years war was set to begin.

    du Tremblay was a religious idealist as much as our Western leaders are idealists in their own way.

  18. @Priss Factor

    Testosterone levels have dropped so much in men – there are very few brave enough to stand up and say such things… So the spiral continues. Before we know it they might try to even ban male sports and say females have to be allowed to play. Some are almost as masculine now as it is.

  19. @Joe Paluka

    Yeah measuring GDP by purchasing power parity is much more sensible. And even then it doesnt fully factor in things like public utilites directly. Use healthcare.. If the cost of a scan cost US \$200 in one place and US \$2000 in another – of the same quality then obviously the one who pays 1/10 enjoys a higher quality of life. But it is a good ego trip for people in the US to talk about how high the per capita GDP is.

  20. Bert33 says:

    Maybe NATO is done and Putin can have a meeting of the minds with EU leaders about a post-Cold War pan-European working agreement

    • Replies: @mulga mumblebrain
  21. The social and cultural upheavals taking place in the United States and Western Europe are, of course, none of our business; we don’t interfere with them.

    I’m willing to take his word for this.

    Someone in the Western countries is convinced that the aggressive erasure of whole pages of their own history…

    Author Escobar was born and raised in Brazil. Putin was born and raised in the USSR. For either of them to express regret about the US finally staring to erase the monstrous lies of the post-Civil War Reconstruction is just crazy. Both should have been advised to keep their mouths shut about a topic they obviously know nothing about.

    That said, Escobar is definitely in my “top ten” list of readable people. Normally he has his head screwed on right.

    Putin has some strange hangups. He clearly doesn’t give a damn about Climate Change. For the moment Russia is prospering mightily from the changes, and will likely continue to do so for the duration of his life. Nearly all politicians in all nations are extremely short sighted. Besides, there is nothing whatever Russia can do by itself to change things. I can understand why he isn’t breaking out in a sweat about the issue. Don’t have to like it, but I can understand….

  22. @Levtraro

    Conservative in some areas, liberal in others seems the best recipe. The Manichean division between two basically powerless (all REAL power is in the hands of the oligarchs, like all the wealth)claques is simply Divide and Rule, too easy in a deracinated bedlam like the USA.

  23. @Bert33

    The US-controlled compradore caste is TOO strong in Europe. In Austfailia the country is de facto a US colony, a Puerto Rico in the South Pacific.

  24. @Joe Paluka

    Indeed, they are by no means perfect but there strength does lay in the fact they have an identity and strongly relate to it.

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