Putin Says Russia's Enemy Is 'Elites,' Not the West

In the US, 'there’s a very strong part of the public who maintain traditional values, and they're with us'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2022 5:40 AM CDT
Putin Says Russia's Enemy Is 'Elites,' Not the West
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks at the plenary session of the 19th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.   (Sergei Karpukhin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

In a wide-ranging speech Thursday, Vladimir Putin slammed "Western elites" and warned that the world is facing "probably the most dangerous, unpredictable, and at the same time important" decade since the end of World War II. He blamed the West for "igniting" the war in Ukraine and said that while he is "always thinking of the human lives lost" by Russian forces in what he calls a "special military operation," Russia has gained "enormous benefits," including "the strengthening of Russia's sovereignty," the BBC reports. Putin said the West's era of "undivided dominance" over world affairs is coming to and end and a "future world order is being formed before our eyes."

The Russian leader—speaking at the annual Valdai foreign policy conference the day after he oversaw nuclear drills—said Russia sees no point, "neither political, nor military," in striking Ukraine with nuclear weapons, but he claimed Ukraine was planning a radioactive "dirty bomb" attack that it would try to blame on Russia, the AP reports. He claimed that Russia has never threatened to use nuclear weapons in the conflict, though the BBC notes that he "has dropped several unsubtle hints that he would be prepared to use every weapon in Russia's arsenal in this conflict." He claimed, as he has done many times before, that Russians and Ukrainians are a single people and Ukraine is an "artificial state."

In what the New York Times sees as a speech "seemingly aimed more at winning over political conservatives abroad than his own citizens," Putin argued that there are "two Wests"—one of "traditional, mainly Christian values," and one that is "aggressive, cosmopolitan, neocolonial, acting as the weapon of the neoliberal elite." He spoke of gay pride parades and dozens of genders, adding: "In the United States, there’s a very strong part of the public who maintain traditional values, and they’re with us. We know about this." He said Russia is not the enemy of the West, but it will continue to oppose "elites" whose "goal is to make Russia more vulnerable and turn it into an instrument for fulfilling their geopolitical tasks." (More Vladimir Putin stories.)

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