In a foreign policy speech Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Western nations of trying to dominate the world, saying the coming decade will be one of the most dangerous since the end of World War II.
In a lengthy speech in Moscow during the opening session of Valdai Discussion Club’s annual foreign affairs forum, Putin characterized the West as aggressively, desperately seeking to “single-handedly govern humanity.” He said people of the world no longer want to put up with it.
He said the West is playing a dangerous, bloody and dirty game, and blamed Western aggression for, in his words, “the incitement of war in Ukraine … provocations around Taiwan, the destabilization of the global food and energy markets,” and the destruction of the European gas pipelines.
The Reuters news agency later cited the White House as saying Putin’s comments were not new and did not indicate a change in his strategic goals, including in Ukraine.
Analysts say Putin’s annual speech has traditionally provided the best insight into the Russian president’s view of the world and geopolitics.
Putin said the world is at a “historical turning point,” and the “period of undivided dominance of the West in world affairs is coming to an end.” He said, “Russia is not challenging the elites of the West, Russia is just trying to defend its right to exist.”
During a question-and-answer session, Putin spoke about the conflict in Ukraine — which he continued to refer to as Russia’s “special military operation.” Russia invaded Ukraine February 24 and has faced Western sanctions over the offensive.
Putin said he thinks “all the time” about the casualties Russia has suffered but that the operation “ultimately benefits Russia and its future.”
During the session, Putin ruled out the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, saying it would “make no sense at all to us — either in political or military terms.”
He said Ukraine and the West accused Russia of military escalation to “influence neutral countries,” which he maintained had failed.
Putin also called on the International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring team in Ukraine to inspect Ukraine’s nuclear sites “as fast as possible,” reiterating Moscow’s claims — without evidence — that Kyiv is preparing to use a “dirty bomb” in the conflict.
He said Ukraine is “doing everything to cover up traces of this preparation.”
A dirty bomb is a conventional bomb laced with radioactive, biological or chemical materials which are spread in an explosion.
The United Nations Security Council discussed Russia’s allegations at a closed-door meeting Tuesday.
Ukraine and its Western allies have strongly denied the accusations, and suspect they are being made as a pretext for some type of escalation in the war in Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden has warned that the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine would be a “very serious mistake.”
Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Press.