Three recent speeches and interviews given by major politicians have sharpened the political debate now raging in the Western media. Ironically, none of the three speeches received significant coverage in the Western media. Ironically, despite the lack of Western media coverage, all three mark a significant development in the world geopolitical dialogue.
Two of the speeches occurred at the same meeting of the Valdai Discussion Group, an organisation established in 2004 and modified to become a foundation in 2011. Russia’s President Putin was an initial founder of the group and has spoken at every meeting since then.
In this year’s meeting Putin again gave a keynote speech and although, as is his preference he spoke in conciliatory terms toward Russia’s major geopolitical foe, the United States, there was no mistaking the edge to his remarks.
Putin spoke of a new era that in his view was about to begin. The world was not just on the edge of dramatic changes, but in what he described as a “tectonic shift” that would affect all areas of life. The process of change has become most marked in the past 40 years. Russia has been and will continue to be a major force in the process of change, undoubtably to the chagrin of its political foes.
For those in the West who were expecting, and undoubtably hoping for, the decline of Russia after the demise of the Soviet Union, Putin declared that to those still waiting for Russia’s decline,” the only thing we are warned about is catching cold at your funeral.”
Putin identified China as moving quickly towards superpower status, although some, including myself, would argue they have already achieved that status. The United States he identified as having at some point (the period 1990–2008?) having absolutely dominated the international stage, but “can hardly claim exceptionality any longer”. Therein lies enormous risk to the world.
Although Putin did not refer to the point, the United States’ unwillingness to acknowledge and accept the fundamental changes in their world status poses a very grave threat to the planet. He referred to authoritative international institutions (unspecified) as following in the wake of someone’s selfish interests as “saddening.” It is worse than that. Not only does it discredit those institutions (and the recent fiasco over the Navalny affair springs to mind) it exacerbates,