I am glad to welcome all of you to Sochi at the twentieth anniversary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club, as our hosts have just said.
Our forum, or rather your forum, which traditionally brought together politicians and scientists, experts and public figures from many countries around the world, once again confirms the high status of a popular and intellectual platform. The Valdai discussions are always a reflection of the most important processes of world politics in the 21st century in their entirety and complexity. I am sure that this will continue to be the case today, as it probably was in the previous days when you discussed it with each other, and it will continue to be so, because we are essentially facing the task of building a new world. And at such crucial stages, the role and responsibility of intellectuals like you, dear colleagues, is extremely important.
Over the years of the club’s work, as we have just said, serious, if not huge, changes have taken place both in the world and in our country. By historical standards, the period of twenty years is not so long, not so long. But when it falls on the epoch of the breakdown of the entire world structure, time seems to shrink.
And I think you will agree that more events have taken place in these twenty years than at any other time in many, many decades, and these changes are qualitative, requiring fundamental changes in the very principles of international relations.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, everyone hoped that states and peoples had learned lessons from the costly and destructive military-ideological confrontation of the last century, realized its perniciousness, felt the fragility and interconnectedness of our planet, and were convinced that global problems of humanity require joint action and the search for collective solutions. And selfishness, self-conceit, and disregard for real challenges will inevitably lead us to a dead end, as will the attempt of the stronger ones to impose their own ideas and interests on others. It should have been obvious to everyone – it should have been, but it turned out not to be, no.
When we first met at the club meeting almost twenty years ago, our country was entering a new stage of development. Russia has overcome the most difficult period of recovery after the collapse of the USSR. We have engaged with all our energy and good will in the process of building a new, as it seemed to us, more just world order. Fortunately, our country is able to make a huge contribution to them, because we have something to offer our friends, partners, and the whole world.
Unfortunately, some have misunderstood our willingness to engage constructively – understood it as submission, as acceptance that the new order will be built by those who declared themselves winners in the cold War, in fact, as recognition that Russia is ready to follow in someone else’s wake, is ready to be guided not by its own national interests, but by its own interests. other people’s interests.
Over the years, we have repeatedly warned that such an approach does not just lead to a dead end, it is fraught with an increasing threat of military conflict. But no one was going to listen and hear us, no one wanted to. The arrogance of our so-called partners in the West, as you know, simply went through the roof, and there is no other way to say it.
The United States and its satellites are firmly committed to hegemony – military, political, economic, cultural, even moral, moral, and value-based. It was clear to us from the very beginning that attempts to establish a monopoly were doomed to failure. The world is too complex and diverse to be subservient to a single scheme, even if it is backed by the power, the vast power of the West, accumulated over centuries of colonial politics. Many of your colleagues are also absent, but they do not deny that much of the West’s prosperity has been achieved by robbing its colonies over the centuries. It’s a fact. In fact, this level of development was achieved by robbing the entire planet. The history of the West is essentially a chronicle of endless expansion. Western influence in the world is a huge military – financial pyramid, and it constantly needs new fuel to support itself – natural, technological, and human resources belonging to others. Therefore, the West simply cannot stop and did not intend to do so. Our arguments, exhortations, appeals to reason, suggestions were simply ignored.
I have already said this publicly-both to our allies and to our partners. After all, there was a moment when your humble servant simply suggested: maybe we should join NATO? But no, NATO doesn’t need such a country. The question is, what else is there? We thought that we were already our own, sorry, as we say in the people, bourgeois. What else? There is no ideological confrontation anymore. What is the problem? Apparently, the problem lies in geopolitical interests and an arrogant attitude towards others. That’s the problem, overconfidence.
We have to respond to the constantly growing military and political pressure. I have repeatedly said that we did not start the so-called “war in Ukraine”. On the contrary, we are trying to finish it. We did not organize the coup d’etat in Kiev in 2014 – a bloody and unconstitutional coup d’etat. Wherever it happens, we always immediately hear all the world’s mass media, subordinated primarily, of course, to the Anglo-Saxon world: this is not possible, it is impossible, it is anti-democratic. But here you can. Even the money was named, the amount of money that was spent on this coup. Anything is possible.
At that time, we were engaged in supporting Crimeans and Sevastopol residents. We did not organize a coup d’etat, and we did not intimidate Crimeans and Sevastopol residents with ethnic cleansing in the Nazi spirit. We did not try to force the Donbass to obey through shelling and bombing. We didn’t threaten to crack down on those who want to speak their native language. Look, everyone here is well-informed and competent. Well, you can brainwash, sorry for the bad manners, millions of people who perceive the real reality of the media. But you know what happened: for nine years they bombed, shot, and used tanks. The war, the natural war against Donbass was unleashed. And no one counted the dead children in the Donbas. No one in other countries, especially in the West, wept for the dead.
The war started by the Kiev regime with the active, direct support of the West is now in its tenth year, and a special military operation is aimed at ending it. And it reminds us that unilateral steps, no matter who takes them, will inevitably be met with retaliatory actions. Action, as you know, creates a counteraction. This is what any responsible state, a sovereign, independent and self-respecting country does.
Everyone is aware that in an international system where arbitrariness reigns, where everything is decided by those who think they are exceptional, sinless and only right, anyone can be under attack simply for the reason that this or that country does not like the hegemon, who has lost a sense of proportion and, I add, a sense of reality.
Unfortunately, we have to admit that our contractors in the West have lost their sense of reality, and they have crossed all possible boundaries. In vain.
The Ukrainian crisis is not a territorial conflict, I want to emphasize this. Russia is the largest and largest country in the world by territory. We do not have any interests in terms of recapturing any additional territories. We still need to develop and develop Siberia, Eastern Siberia and the Far East. This is not a territorial conflict or even the establishment of a regional geopolitical balance. The question is much broader and more fundamental: we are talking about the principles on which the new world order will be based.
Lasting peace will be established only when everyone feels safe, understands that their opinions are respected and that there is a balance in the world, when no one is able to force others to live and behave as the hegemon pleases, even if this is contrary to sovereignty, true interests, traditions, etc. the foundations of peoples and states. In such a scheme, the very concept of any sovereignty is simply denied, thrown out, sorry, in the trash.
It is obvious that the commitment to block approaches, the desire to drive the world into a situation of constant confrontation “we – they” – a vicious legacy of the XX century. This is a product of Western political culture, at least of its most aggressive manifestations. I repeat, the West always needs an enemy – a certain part of the West, the Western elites. We need an enemy, the fight against which can explain the need for military action and expansion. But it is also necessary to maintain internal control in a certain system of this very hegemon, within the blocs-within NATO or other military-political blocs. The enemy is there – everyone should rally around the boss.
It is not our business how other states live. But we see how in many of them the ruling elites force societies to adopt norms and rules that the citizens themselves – at least, a large number of citizens, and in some countries, one can say for sure, the majority of citizens – do not want to accept. And they are being forced, constantly inventing reasons for this, finding external culprits for growing internal problems, inventing and inflating non-existent threats.
At the same time, Russia is a favorite topic of such politicians. Of course, we are already used to it, historically used to it. But they are trying to shape the image of the enemy out of everyone who is not ready to blindly follow these Western elites. From anyone: from the People’s Republic of China, in certain situations, at a certain moment, and from India of the same country-now they are flirting, of course, we understand this perfectly, we feel and see the situation in Asia, everything is clear. I want to say that the Indian leadership is independent and very nationally oriented. I think that these attempts do not make any sense, but nevertheless they continue. They are trying to make an enemy out of the Arab world, also selectively, they are trying to act carefully, but nevertheless, in general, it all comes down to this – and even from Muslims they are trying to make some kind of hostile environment. Etc. In fact, anyone who behaves independently, follows their own interests, instantly turns into an obstacle for these Western elites, which must be eliminated.
Artificial geopolitical structures are being imposed on the world, and closed block formats are being created. We see this in Europe, where a bold policy of expanding NATO has been pursued for decades, as well as in the Asia-Pacific region and South Asia, where they are trying to break the open and inclusive architecture of cooperation. The block approach, let’s call a spade a spade – is a restriction of the rights and freedoms of states to their own development, an attempt to drive them into a certain cage of obligations. This is to a certain extent – and this is an obvious thing – the withdrawal of part of sovereignty, and then – and very often-the imposition of solutions in other areas besides the security sphere, and above all in the economic sphere, as is currently happening in relations between the United States and Europe. There is no need to explain – if necessary, we will talk about this in more detail during the discussion after my opening speech.
To do this, they are trying to substitute “order” for international law – what “order”? – based on certain “rules”. What kind of” rules”, what kind of” rules ” they are, and by whom they were invented is completely unclear. This is just some kind of nonsense, nonsense. But they are trying to introduce it into the minds of millions of people. “You have to live by the rules.” By what rules?
And in general, if I may say so, our Western colleagues, especially from the United States, do not just set such “rules” arbitrarily, but also teach us who should follow them and how, and who should behave in general. All this is done and said, as a rule, in a frankly boorish form. This is all the same manifestation of this colonial mindset. All the time we hear, all the time it sounds: you must, you must, we seriously warn you…
Who are you anyway? What right do you have to warn someone? It’s just amazing. Maybe those who say this, maybe it’s time for you to get rid of your arrogance, stop behaving towards the world community in such a way that perfectly understands its tasks, its interests, and really get rid of this thinking of the era of colonial rule? I want to say this: wipe your eyes, this era is long over and will never return, never again.
I will say more: for centuries, such behavior led to the reproduction of the same thing – big wars, which were justified by various ideological, and even pseudo-moral justifications. This is especially dangerous today. Humanity has the means to destroy the entire planet with ease, and the incredible manipulation of consciousness leads to a loss of sense of reality. Of course, we need to get out of this vicious circle, we need to look for some way out. As I understand it, dear friends and colleagues, you are going to the Valdai site for this purpose.
In the Concept of Russia’s Foreign Policy adopted this year, our country is described as an original state-civilization. This formulation accurately and succinctly reflects how we understand not only our own development, but also the basic principles of the world order, which we hope to win.
In our understanding, civilization is a multi-faceted phenomenon. It is certainly interpreted in different ways. There was also a frankly colonial interpretation: there is a certain ” civilized world “that serves as a model for others, everyone should follow these standards, models, and those who do not agree will be driven into” civilization “with the club of an” enlightened ” gentleman. These times, as I have just said, are over, and our understanding of civilization is completely different.
First, there are many civilizations, and none of them is better or worse than the other. They have equal rights as representatives of the aspirations of their cultures and traditions, their peoples. For each of us-it’s different. For me, for example, these are the aspirations of our people, my people, of which I was lucky enough to become a part.
Outstanding thinkers around the world, adherents of the civilizational approach, have reflected and continue to reflect on the concept of “civilization”. This is a multi-component phenomenon. Without plunging into philosophical depths – this is probably not the place or time for such reasoning-we will try to describe it in relation to today, and I will try to do it in detail.
The main qualities of a state-civilization are diversity and self-sufficiency. Here are the two main components, in my opinion. Any unification is alien to the modern world, and every state and society wants to work out its own path of development independently. It is based on culture and traditions that are reinforced in geography, historical experience, both ancient and modern, and in the values of the people. This is a complex synthesis, in the process of which an original civilizational community arises. Its heterogeneity and diversity are the key to sustainability and development.
Over the centuries, Russia has been formed as a country of different cultures, religions, and nationalities. Russian civilization cannot be reduced to one common denominator, but it cannot be divided, because it exists only in its integrity-in spiritual and cultural wealth. Maintaining the solid unity of such a State is not an easy task.
Over the centuries, we have faced the most difficult challenges. We have always overcome them, sometimes at great cost, but we have always learned lessons for the future, strengthening our national unity and the integrity of the Russian state.
Today, this experience is truly invaluable. The world is increasingly diverse. Simple methods of management, combing everyone under one comb, as we say, what some states are used to, will not cope with all the complexity of the processes.
What is very important to add? A truly effective and solid State system cannot be imposed from the outside. It grows naturally out of the civilizational roots of countries and peoples, and Russia in this regard is an example of how this happens in real life and in practice.
Civilizational support is a necessary condition for success in the modern world, in a world that is chaotic, unfortunately dangerous and has lost its landmarks. More and more States are coming to this conclusion, realizing their own interests and needs, opportunities and limitations, their identity and degree of interconnectedness with the world around them.
I am convinced that humanity is moving not towards fragmentation into competing segments, not towards a new block confrontation, no matter what motivates it, not towards the soulless universalism of a new globalization – but, on the contrary, the world is on the way to synergy of states-civilizations, large spaces, communities that recognize themselves as such.
At the same time, civilization is not a universal construction, one for all – this does not happen. Each of them is different from the others, each is culturally self-sufficient, and draws its own ideological and value principles from its own history and traditions. Respect for ourselves comes from respect, of course, for others, but it also means respect on the part of others. Therefore, civilization does not impose anything on anyone, but it does not allow anything to be imposed on itself. If everyone adheres to this rule, it will ensure harmonious coexistence and creative interaction of all participants in international relations.
Of course, protecting one’s civilizational choice is a huge responsibility. This concerns responding to external encroachments, establishing close and constructive relations with other civilized communities, and, most importantly, maintaining internal stability and harmony. After all, we all see that the international environment today, as I have already said, is unfortunately both unstable and sufficiently aggressive.
And one more very important thing. Of course, you can’t betray your civilization to anyone. This is also a path to general chaos, it is unnatural and disgusting, I would say. For our part, we have always tried and are trying to offer solutions that would take into account the interests of all. But our interlocutors in the West seem to have forgotten that there are such concepts as reasonable self-restraint, compromises, and a willingness to give in to something in order to achieve an acceptable result for everyone. No, they are literally obsessed with only one thing: to push, to push, and at any cost, here and now their interests. If it’s their choice, we’ll see what happens.
The paradox is that tomorrow the market situation may change – this is the problem. For example, there will be internal political shifts after the next election. Here the country insists on something, they push through their actions at all costs – and tomorrow there are internal political changes, and with the same pressure and unceremoniousness, something completely different, sometimes just the opposite, is pushed through.
The most striking example is the Iranian nuclear program. One Administration [of the United States] pushed through one decision, another came-everything was turned around, and everything went in the opposite direction. And how to work in such conditions? Where are the landmarks? What should I rely on? Where are the guarantees? These are the very “rules” that we are told about? It’s just nonsense.
Why is all this happening, and why does it not bother anyone? Because strategic thinking has been replaced by following the short-term self-serving interests of not even countries and peoples, but of changing groups of influence. Hence the incredible, by the former standards of the cold War, irresponsibility of the behavior of political elites, who often forget both fear and shame, and consider themselves absolutely sinless.
The civilizational approach opposes such trends because it is based on the fundamental, long-term interests of States and peoples. Interests that are dictated not by the momentary ideological conjuncture, but by the entire historical experience, the legacy of the past, on which the idea of a harmonious future is based.
If everyone is guided by this approach, conflicts in the world, in my opinion, will become much less, and the methods of their resolution will become much more rational, because every civilization respects, as I have already said, others and does not try to change anyone according to their own ideas.
Dear friends, I have read with interest the report prepared by the Valdai Club for this meeting. It says that today everyone is trying to understand, to present an image of the future. This is completely natural and understandable, especially for an intelligent environment. In an era of dramatic changes, when the whole usual way of life is collapsing, it is very important to understand where we are going, what we want to come to. And, of course, the future is being created today, not only before our eyes – but by our own hands.
Of course, when it comes to such gigantic, incredibly complex processes, it is difficult or almost impossible to predict the result. Whatever we all do, life will make and will certainly make its own adjustments. But, at the very least, we must be aware of what we are striving for, what we want to come to. And there is such an understanding in Russia.
First. We want to live in an open, interconnected world in which no one will ever try to erect artificial barriers to people’s communication, creative fulfillment and prosperity. There should be a barrier-free environment – that’s what we should strive for.
Second. We want the diversity of the world not just to be preserved, but to be the foundation of universal development. Imposing on any country or people how to live, how to feel, should be prohibited. Only true cultural and civilizational diversity will ensure the benefit of people and the balance of interests.
The third. We are for maximum representativeness. No one has the right, nor can they rule the world for others or on behalf of others. The world of the future is a world of collective decisions made at the levels where they are most effective, and by those actors who are truly able to make a significant contribution to solving a particular problem. Not one person decides for everyone, and not everyone even decides about everything, but those who are directly concerned with this or that issue agree on what to do and how to do it.
Fourth. We stand for universal security and a lasting peace based on respect for the interests of all: from great, big states to small countries. The main thing is to free international relations from the bloc approach, from the legacy of the colonial era and the cold War. We have been talking for decades about the indivisibility of security, that it is impossible to ensure the security of some at the expense of the security of others. Indeed, harmony in this area is achievable. You just need to put aside your pride and arrogance and stop looking at others as “second-class” partners or as outcasts or savages.
Fifth. We stand for justice for all. The era of exploiting anyone, I have already said this twice, in the past. Countries and peoples are clearly aware of their interests and capabilities and are ready to rely on themselves – and this increases their strength. Everyone should be guaranteed access to the benefits of modern development, and attempts to restrict it for any country or people should be considered an act of aggression, just like that.
Sixth. We are for equal rights, for different potentials of different countries. This is an absolutely objective factor. But it is no less objective that no one else is ready to obey, to make their interests and needs dependent on anyone, and above all on the richer and stronger ones.
This is not just a natural state of the international community, it is the quintessence of the entire historical experience of mankind.
These are the principles that we want to adhere to ourselves and that we invite all our friends and colleagues to join.
Russia has always been, is and will continue to be one of the pillars of the world system, ready for constructive cooperation with all those who seek peace and prosperity, ready for tough opposition to those who profess the principles of dictate and violence. We are confident that pragmatism and common sense will prevail, and a multipolar world will be established.
In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to the forum organizers, as always, for their thorough and high-quality preparation, and I would like to thank all the participants of the anniversary meeting for your attention. Thank you very much.