Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of imposing its crumbling hegemony across the world and of causing the war in Ukraine by losing touch with reality. He also denied that Russia had ever considered using nuclear weapons against Ukraine, saying Moscow had never “intentionally said anything” about it.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on Thursday, Putin said that Russia was trying to end the conflict in Ukraine, not start it. He blamed the West for supporting a coup in Kiev in 2014 that ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and for imposing sanctions on Russia after it annexed Crimea and backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
“We did not start the so-called war in Ukraine. On the contrary – we are trying to finish it,” Putin said.
He also dismissed the allegations that Russia had threatened to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, saying that such claims were “absurd” and “nonsense”. He said that as long as nuclear weapons exist, there is always the danger of their use, but that Russia had never “intentionally said anything” about it.
Putin also criticized the West for its “colonial thinking” and its attempts to impose its values and norms on other countries. He said that the West had lost “a sense of reality” and was playing “dangerous, bloody and dirty games” in various regions of the world.
He singled out the United States as a “hegemon” that considered itself the only arbiter of truth on the planet and questioned what right it had to lecture any other country. He said that the US was trying to maintain its global dominance by creating chaos and instability around the world.
Putin also expressed his views on various social and cultural issues, such as diversity, cancel culture, gender identity and artificial intelligence. He stressed that Russia should adhere to its own “spiritual values and historical traditions”, while steering clear of “sociocultural disturbances” in the West.
He said that Russia respected the rights and freedoms of all people, but that it did not accept “aggressive imposition” of foreign values and lifestyles. He said that Russia was open to dialogue and cooperation with all countries, but that it would defend its national interests and sovereignty.
The Valdai Discussion Club is a forum that brings together Russian and foreign experts, politicians, journalists and academics to discuss various topics related to global affairs. It was established in 2004 and holds its annual meeting in different locations across Russia.