President Vladimir Putin took part in the plenary session of the 20th anniversary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club held October 5 in southern coastal city of Sochi. Its 20th Annual Meeting was under the unique theme “Fair Multipolarity: How to Ensure Security and Development for Everyone” which gathered some 200 experts, politicians, and diplomats from 42 countries throughout Eurasia, Africa, and North and South America.
Here are few significant points in Putin’s speech:
When we met for the first time at the club’s meeting nearly 20 years ago, our country was entering a new stage in its development. Russia was emerging from an extremely difficult period of convalescence after the Soviet Union’s dissolution. We launched the process of building a new and what we saw as a more just world order energetically and with good will. It is a boon that our country can make a huge contribution because we have things to offer to our friends, partners and the world as a whole.
The Ukraine crisis is not a territorial conflict, and I want to make that clear. Russia is the world’s largest country in terms of land area, and we have no interest in conquering additional territory. We still have much to do to properly develop Siberia, Eastern Siberia, and the Russian Far East. This is not a territorial conflict and not an attempt to establish regional geopolitical balance. The issue is much broader and more fundamental and is about the principles underlying the new international order.
Lasting peace will only be possible when everyone feels safe and secure, understands that their opinions are respected, and that there is a balance in the world where no one can unilaterally force or compel others to live or behave as a hegemon pleases even when it contradicts the sovereignty, genuine interests, traditions, or customs of peoples and countries. In such an arrangement, the very concept of sovereignty is simply denied and, sorry, is thrown in the garbage.
The history of the West is essentially the chronicle of endless expansion. Western influence in the world is an immense military and financial pyramid scheme that constantly needs more “fuel” to support itself, with natural, technological and human resources that belong to others. This is why the West simply cannot and is not going to stop. Our arguments, reasoning, calls for common sense or proposals have simply been ignored.
In the early 21st century, everybody hoped that states and peoples had learned the lessons of the expensive and destructive military and ideological confrontations of the previous century, saw their harmfulness and the fragility and interconnectedness of our planet, and understood that the global problems of humanity call for joint action and the search for collective solutions, while egotism, arrogance and disregard for real challenges would inevitably lead to a dead-end, just like the attempts by more powerful countries to force their opinions and interests onto everyone else. This should have become obvious to everyone. It should have, but it has not. It has not.
Earlier on Sept. 30, in an address on Day of Reunification of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Lugansk People’s Republic and the Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions with Russia, Putin said: A year ago, on September 30, a defining and truly historic event took place when agreements were signed to incorporate four new constituent entities into the Russian Federation. Millions of residents of Donbass and the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions made their choice to be with their Fatherland.
This conscious, long-awaited, hard-won and genuinely popular decision was made collectively through referendums in full compliance with international norms. People showed courage and integrity in the face of attempts to intimidate and deprive them of their right to determine their own future and their destiny. By defending our compatriots in Donbass and Novorossiya, we are defending Russia itself. Together, we are fighting for the Motherland.
But nothing and no one can break the will of millions of people, or their belief in truth and historical justice. Our entire large and united country is working together. Russia has become even stronger, with the residents of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Lugansk People’s Republic, and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.
Background: In September 2022, the State Duma (lower house of Russia’s parliament) and the Federation Council (upper house) approved legislation on ratifying treaties, as well as federal constitutional laws on the accession of the four regions to Russia.
On 24 February 2022, Russian President Putin said in a televised address that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had decided to carry out a special military operation to protect people “who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years” and Putin explained – “demilitarization and denazification” in Ukraine, approved by the State Duma and Federation Council of the Russian Federation.