Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a keynote speech and engaged in a Q&A session at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi. The four-hour event covered various topics, including the Ukraine conflict, Nagorno-Karabakh, the role of the West in current tensions, Russia’s vision for international relations, and an update on Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
In his speech, Putin criticized Western countries for accumulating wealth and influence through centuries of “endless expansion,” colonialism, and economic exploitation. He argued that this model, based on subjugation and disregard for the legitimate interests of other nations, is the root cause of current tensions and will lead to a dead end.
Putin outlined six principles that Russia wants to see as the foundation of a more equitable world order. These principles include rejecting artificial barriers between countries and opposing a single power dictating its will. He emphasized that nobody has the right to control the world at the expense of others or in their name.
Regarding the Ukraine conflict, Putin stated that Russia’s focus is on protecting the people of Donbass and Crimea, rather than seeking new territories. He reiterated that the crisis was triggered by the 2014 Western-backed coup in Kiev, which empowered Ukrainian nationalists and was rejected in Crimea. The peninsula voted to join Russia, while the Donbass regions declared independence from Kiev. Through referendums held in September 2022, the two Donbass republics, along with Kherson and Zaporozhye, became part of Russia.
Putin revealed staggering figures of Ukrainian battlefield losses, stating that more than 90,000 soldiers were killed or seriously wounded in the counteroffensive launched in early June. He also mentioned the loss of tanks and armored vehicles by Kiev’s forces.
Addressing the impact of sanctions on Russia, Putin emphasized that the country has successfully reshaped its economy towards self-sufficiency and new markets since the EU and US first imposed restrictions in 2014. He stated that Russia overcame all problems arising from the sanctions and entered the next stage of development.
Regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh clash between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Putin dismissed accusations that Moscow abandoned its ally Armenia. He mentioned that Russia did everything it could to mediate the conflict and offered Yerevan a compromise. He argued that the clash was inevitable after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan officially recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory.
Putin further discussed Russia’s progress in developing its nuclear arsenal. He highlighted the completion of work on the Sarmat silo-based intercontinental ballistic missile and successful tests of the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile. Putin expressed concerns about the US’s failure to ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), warning that Russia might consider revoking its ratification of the treaty and responding according to Washington’s policies on the matter.
In summary, Putin’s speech at the Valdai Discussion Club covered a wide range of topics, addressing the Ukraine conflict, Nagorno-Karabakh, the role of the West, Russia’s vision for international relations, and updates on its nuclear arsenal. Putin highlighted the need for a more equitable world order and criticized the Western model of wealth accumulation and influence. He emphasized Russia’s focus on protecting its people and its ability to overcome challenges, including sanctions. Ultimately, Putin provided insight into Russia’s perspective on global affairs and its vision for the future.