Vladimir Putin Delivers a Lesson in Statecraft
At a time when many world leaders do their best to avoid facing questions in public, Russian President Putin held a press conference for nearly four hours on Dec, 14, which was broadcast on all national television channels in Russia. The questions came from reporters and from ordinary citizens, with topics raging from the special military operation in Ukraine, to problems with receiving veteran benefits, and the price of eggs. While western media disparaged it as “choreographed” and “controlled”, Putin demonstrated a confidence in speaking to his nation that one cannot find in European capitals today.
Perhaps the most significant topic he took up was that of relations with the U.S. and Europe, at a time when NATO, with the full support of the EU, is engaged in a “proxy war” against Russia in Ukraine. Since the media have barely reported these remarks, we quote them here.
On the insistence of western leaders that they are defending a “rules-based world order,” Putin was sharply critical, saying that “there are no such rules in reality. They change every day depending on the current political situation and the immediate interests of whoever is talking about it.”
And while they push this idea, he said that “there are quite a large number of forces in the world, powerful countries that want to live not by these unwritten rules, but by the rules prescribed in fundamental documents, including the Charter of the United Nations, and those that are guided by their own interests and the interests of their partners. They do not impose anything on anyone, do not create any military blocs, but create conditions for joint effective development.” He added, “This will be the focus of Russia’s work as BRICS chair next year.”
As for Europe’s leaders, he suggested that while many think of themselves as a former French President Charles de Gaulle, they actually resemble Marshall Petain, who was “a Nazi collaborationist. He accepted the will of the occupying forces. Almost everyone [in Europe] behaves this way, except for a few people. Robert Fico became a new leader [in Slovakia] after the election, and Viktor Orbán in Hungary. I have said many times that they are not pro-Russia politicians, they are pro-national — they are defending their countries’ interests. But there are too few politicians like this; I do not know why they do not exist. Maybe this has to do with Europe’s excessive dependence on the Big Brother — the United States. But we are ready to build relations with them.
“In fact, we are ready to build relations with the United States as well. We believe that America is an important country on the world stage. But this absolutely imperial policy the country pursues is bad for them, not even for us. Why? Because the public expects them to act like an empire, and if they agree to compromise on something or concede something to someone, their voters will see this as a failure or a flaw. That may partly be the reason the elites have to act in this way.
As western nations are mired in economic crises, costly and failing military adventures, and a growing polarization resulting from their neo-con, neo-liberal strategic and economic policies, their leaders would be wise to pay attention to what Vladimir Putin has to say.