The world is likely to enter its “dangerous” decade since the end of World War II, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday, presenting the conflict in Ukraine as part of a wider struggle against Western rule.
Arguing that Western dominance in global affairs was coming to an end, Putin insisted that Russia was not only challenging the West, but also fighting for its own right to exist.
Putin spoke as Ukrainian forces recapture more territory that Moscow has annexed as its own, and mobilized more troops to defend.
“Forward is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and at the same time most important decade since the end of World War II,” Putin told members of the annual Valdai Discussion Club during a lengthy question-and-answer session.
The situation was “to some extent revolutionary,” he said, describing the offensive in Ukraine as simply part of the “tectonic shifts of the entire world order.”
“The historic period of undivided dominance of the West in world affairs is coming to an end,” Putin said. “The unipolar world is a thing of the past.
While the West still “desperately” tried to rule humanity, it was unable to do so. “Most peoples of the world don’t want to endure it any longer,” he said.
And the Russian president characterized the current crisis as a struggle for survival for Russia.
“Russia is not challenging the elites of the West, Russia is only trying to defend its right to exist,” he said.
‘Dirty Bomb’ row
Putin also returned to arguing over Russian allegations that Ukraine was preparing to use a “dirty bomb” against its soldiers.
Kiev did “everything to cover up the traces of this preparation” for such a bomb, he said.
On Monday, in response to the allegations, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it regularly visited two sites Moscow had questioned.
The UN agency’s inspectors had found nothing objectionable and were preparing for another visit in the coming days, the statement said.
“We are for it,” Putin said. “And it has to be done as soon as possible.”
A dirty bomb is a conventional bomb laced with radioactive, biological or chemical materials that are dispersed in an explosion.
Over the past week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has echoed the claims of a Ukrainian dirty bomb in talks with his colleagues in France, the US, the UK, China and India.
France, the US and the UK have all rejected the claim, and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has warned that Russia could use the claim as a “pretext” for escalation.
Kiev, meanwhile, has said it suspects Russia itself would use a dirty bomb in a “false flag” attack.
But Putin said on Thursday that the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine “makes no sense to us at all – neither politically nor militarily”.
Earlier Thursday, the Kremlin said Ukraine had withdrawn from peace talks with Moscow in March on Washington’s orders.
“The text was ready… And when suddenly the Ukrainian side went off the radar, the Ukrainian side declared its unwillingness to continue the negotiations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Talks between Kiev and Moscow have stalled since March, with both sides blaming the other for the stalemate.
Zelensky on Wednesday rejected any possibility of talks with Moscow and denounced Putin’s “planned rhetoric”. In late September, he said he would not negotiate with Russia as long as Putin is president.
Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine repeatedly encountered setbacks.
Putin has changed his military commander there in recent weeks after Kiev’s forces launched a counter-offensive and recaptured territory in the east.
Last week, Putin imposed martial law in four Ukrainian regions he declared annexed: Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk and Lugansk.
The annexation announcement came in late September, despite the fact that Moscow forces did not fully control some regions. For example, heavy fighting has recently taken place in the eastern region of Donetsk.
The Russian-installed authorities in the occupied Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhya ordered telephone checks on local residents on Thursday.
Anyone who subscribes to “propaganda resources of the Kiev terrorist regime” would receive a warning before being fined.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)