Putin Tells St. Petersburg Forum, the Unipolar World Is Dead; Deluded West Would Do Well To Admit It
June 17, 2022 (EIRNS)—In his keynote address to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) today, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a tour de force in describing the world situation, telling his audience that he wanted to begin with the same point he made at the World Economic Forum in Davos a year and a half ago—that the unipolar world is dead. “There is no way around it. This era has ended despite all the attempts to maintain and preserve it at all costs.” The flawed concept of a unipolar world is based on the idea that there is just one “albeit strong power with a limited circle of close allies, or, as they say, countries with granted access, and all business practices and international relations, when it is convenient, are interpreted solely in the interests of this power. They essentially work in one direction in a zero-sum game. A world built on this doctrine of this kind is definitely unstable.”
Putin pointed to the willful blindness of the U.S. and Western powers that, following the Cold War, ignored the emergence in recent decades of new “increasingly assertive” centers of power, with their own political systems, models of economic growth and the right to protect themselves and secure their national sovereignty. These are “genuinely revolutionary tectonic shifts in geopolitics, the global economy and technology in the entire system of international relations.” These “dynamic and potentially strong countries and regions are growing,” Putin said, and their interests can no longer be ignored.
Putin excoriated Western states for refusing “to notice obvious things, stubbornly clinging to the shadows of the past.... They seem to believe that the dominance of the West in global politics and the economy is an unchanging eternal value.” But, he warned, “nothing is eternal.” Western nations are trying “to reverse the course of history. They seem to think in terms of the past century,” considering that any nations outside the so-called “golden billion” are a backwater, are colonies and second-class citizens. Any nation that does not blindly obey is punished or crushed.
The Russian President went through a quite detailed and systematic discussion of the Russian economy, assessing its problems, priorities and accomplishments, especially under the onslaught of the “sanctions blitzkrieg” which the West deluded itself into thinking would “suddenly and violently” crush the Russian economy, industry and people’s living standards. “This did not work,” Putin pointed out. The propaganda about the dollar at 200 rubles and economic collapse was just information warfare. “Real life has belied these predictions.” But, he said, “to continue being successful, we must be explicitly honest and realistic in assessing the situation, be independent in reaching conclusions, and of course, have a can-do spirit, which is very important. We are strong people and can deal with any challenge.... The entire thousand-year history of our country bears this out.”
Putin described the challenges of building up production, increasing supply in the domestic market and restoring demand. There has been success in gradually lowering interest rates and inflation, but more must be done. Every effort must be made to improve people’s living conditions, to provide housing, transportation and new infrastructure, restore bank financing and protect the most vulnerable citizens. He called for going beyond just import substitution, to produce high-quality goods employing advanced state-of-the art technology.
It is European countries, Putin said, that are suffering the brunt of the sanctions imposed on Russia. “Sanctions as a weapon have proved in recent years to be a double-edged sword damaging their advocates and architects just as much, if not more.” He estimated that the EU’s direct calculable losses from the “sanctions fever” could exceed $400 billion this year, whose victims are the European people, whose savings are being eaten up. Putin asserted Europe has in fact lost its political sovereignty, “its bureaucratic elites are dancing to someone else’s tune, doing everything they are told from on high and hurting their own people, economies, and businesses.” Eventually, he warned “Such a disconnect from reality and the demands of society will inevitably lead to a surge in populism and extremist and radical movements, major socioeconomic changes, degradation and a change of elites in the short term.”
What is happening in the world economy today, Putin explained, has nothing to do with Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. Rather, the world has been driven into this situation “little by little, by many years of irresponsible macroeconomic policies pursued by the G7 countries, including uncontrolled emission and accumulation of unsecured debt.”