Vladimir Putin speaks
The ongoing decline of Western hegemony is irreversible
On September 21, 2022, Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, spoke on the situation in Donbass and reported on “the special military operation to liberate [Donbass] from the neo-Nazi regime.” The goal of the operation, he declared, is “to protect the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Russia and support the desire and will of our compatriots to choose their future independently.” In his view, some Western elites have adopted an aggressive policy that seeks to preserve their domination, and to this end, they attempt to block and suppress any effort at sovereign and independent development, imposing their will and their pseudo-values on other countries and nations.
The Russian President maintained that the West seeks to weaken, divide, and ultimately destroy Russia, splitting it up into numerous regions that would be in conflict with one another. The West openly declares that it broke up the Soviet Union in 1991, and it seeks to do the same today with Russia. Putin maintains that the Western elites devised these plans long ago. They nourished indiscriminate Russophobia for decades, especially in Ukraine. They moved NATO’s offensive military infrastructure close to Russia’s borders. In 2014, they unleased a coup d’état, establishing a government in Ukraine that employed the army against civilians and that organized a genocidal and terrorist campaign against those who refused to recognize the government. They pushed Ukraine into a war with Russia, turning the people of Ukraine into cannon fodder.
Putin noted that the Kiev regime refused to settle the issue of Donbass peacefully, and it had become clear that a third offensive on Donbass was being planned, which inevitably would be followed by an attack on Russia. Thus, Russia decided [in November] that a pre-emptive military operation was the necessary and only option. “The main goal of this operation, which is to liberate the whole of Donbass, remains unaltered.”
Putin reported on the progress of the special military operation, noting that the Lugansk People’s Republic has been liberated from the neo-Nazis almost completely. In the Donetsk People’s Republic, fighting continues. The Kiev regime had created during the previous eight years a permanent line of defense, such that a head-on attack would have resulted in heavy losses. So Russian units, acting systematically and in cooperation with the forces of the Donbass republics, are moving step-by-step to purge cities and towns from neo-Nazis. Russian troops have liberated considerable areas in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions and a number of other areas, establishing a protracted line of contact over 1,000 kilometers long.
Following the initiation of the special military operation, and especially following the talks in Istanbul, the Kiev representatives were responding positively to Russian proposals, which primarily have been oriented to ensuring Russia’s security interests. In order to create conditions for the conclusion of an agreement, Russia withdrew its troops from the area of Kiev. But the West ordered Kiev to turn down all agreements, and it pumped more weapons into Ukraine. As a result, “The Kiev regime brought into play new groups of foreign mercenaries and nationalists, military units trained according to NATO standards and receiving orders from Western advisers.” At the same time, Ukraine has intensified its regime of reprisals against its own citizens. “The policy of intimidation, terror and violence is taking on increasingly mass-scale, horrific and barbaric forms.”
The Russian President noted that the parliaments of the Donbass people’s republics and the military-civilian administrations of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions have decided to hold referendums on the future of their territories, and they have asked for Russian support. Putin emphasized that Russia will do everything necessary to create safe conditions for the referendums and to support the options chosen by the majority in these republics and regions.
Putin announced his support for the proposal of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff for a “partial mobilization in the Russian Federation to defend our Motherland and its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to ensure the safety of our people and people in the liberated territories.” He explained that a “partial mobilization” means that only military reservists will be called up. Those called will undergo addition military training related to the special military operation, and they will have the same status, payments, and social benefits as military personnel serving under contract.
Ceremony for the signing of treaties of accession
On September 30, Putin addressed the Russian people on the occasion of the signing of treaties of accession to the Russian Federation of the Donetsk People's Republic, the Lugansk People's Republic, the Zaporozhye Region and the Kherson Region. The people in these republics and regions recently voted in referendums to become new constituent entities of the Russian Federation.
Putin spoke in memory of heroes that had given their lives since 2014 “for the right to speak their native language [and] to preserve their culture, traditions, and religion,” who were “victims of inhuman terrorist attacks carried out by the Kiev regime.”
The Russian President noted that when the Party elite in the last years of the Soviet Union decided to dismember the country, they cut off millions of people in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson from their homeland and its traditions, culture, language, and religion; without asking ordinary citizens what they desired. They people had to accept this as an accomplished fact. But today, following eight years of genocide, they have expressed “their determination to return to their true historical homeland.”
The people have made their decision, and Russia will not betray it, Putin declared. Russia calls for an immediate cease fire and a return to peace negotiations, but the return of these peoples to their historical homeland will not be subject to negotiation. “I want the Kiev authorities and their true handlers in the West to hear me now, and I want everyone to remember this: the people living in Lugansk and Donetsk, in Kherson and Zaporozhye have become our citizens, forever.” Furthermore, Russia commits to these peoples the rebuilding of their destroyed cities, towns, residential buildings, schools, hospitals, theatres, and museums.
Putin declared that the ruling class of the West has revealed its true character. The Western elites never thought that Russia would rise again following the shocks of 1991. But in spite of the hunger and hopelessness of the 1990s, Russia remained standing, came alive again, and has reclaimed its rightful place in the world. Now the Western elites look for another chance to weaken and break up Russia, because they cannot accept such a great country with a huge territory, enormous natural resources, and a people who refuse to do someone else’s bidding.
The ruling class of the West is determined to preserve its exploitative position in a neocolonial world-system. Putin declared:
“The West is ready to cross every line to preserve the neo-colonial system which allows it to live off the world, to plunder it thanks to the domination of the dollar and technology, to collect an actual tribute from humanity, to extract its primary source of unearned prosperity, the rent paid to the hegemon. The preservation of this annuity is their main, real and absolutely self-serving motivation. This is why total de-sovereignisation is in their interest. This explains their aggression towards independent states, traditional values and authentic cultures, their attempts to undermine international and integration processes, new global currencies and technological development centres they cannot control. It is critically important for them to force all countries to surrender their sovereignty to the United States.”
This neocolonial interest explains the West’s proxy war against Russian in Ukraine. “I want to underscore again that their insatiability and determination to preserve their unfettered dominance are the real causes of the hybrid war that the collective West is waging against Russia. They do not want us to be free; they want us to be a colony. They do not want equal cooperation; they want to loot. They do not want to see us a free society, but a mass of soulless slaves.”
Putin maintained that there is every reason to believe that the Western elites are not going to look for constructive solutions to the global food and energy crisis and the issues of inequality and injustice. Here we need to recall history. The West overcame the Great Depression through profits from World War II. It resolved the crisis of the 1970s and 1980s by intensifying financial exploitation of the world and by appropriating the resources of the defunct Soviet Union. Today, they do everything they can to maintain the same world-system of plundering and racketeering, even though the neocolonial model is doomed.
The Western elites, Putin maintains, are morally decadent, indifferent to the suffering and injustices of the world. As a sign of their decadence, they have moved to a radical denial of moral, religious, and family values, proclaiming, for example, the existence of other genders along with women and men, and offering gender reassignment surgery. They are renouncing what it means to be human, and they are overthrowing faith and traditional values. Russia, however, plans for a different future, in accordance with its values and culture.
The world today, Putin maintains, “has entered a period of fundamental, revolutionary transformations,” in which new centers of power are emerging. These new centers represent a majority of the international community. They see multipolarity as an opportunity for them to strengthen their sovereignty and to exercise their right to independent, creative, and distinctive forms of development. “An essentially emancipatory, anti-colonial movement against unipolar hegemony is taking shape in the most diverse countries and societies. Its power will only grow with time. It is this force that will determine our future geopolitical reality.”
The threat of nuclear war
In his September 21 address, the Russian President noted that some irresponsible Western politicians are organizing “the delivery of long-range offensive weapons to Ukraine,” capable of delivering strikes at Crimea and other regions in Russia. Moreover, Putin declared, “Washington, London and Brussels are openly encouraging Kiev to move the hostilities to our territory. They openly say that Russia must be defeated on the battlefield by any means, and subsequently deprived of political, economic, cultural and any other sovereignty and ransacked.” In addition, they are resorting to nuclear blackmail. Statements have been made by “some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO countries on the possibility and admissibility of using weapons of mass destruction – nuclear weapons – against Russia.”
Putin reminded those making such statements that Russia “has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have. In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.” He went on to say that “the citizens of Russia can rest assured that the territorial integrity of our Motherland, our independence and freedom will be defended – I repeat – by all the systems available to us. Those who are using nuclear blackmail against us should know that the wind rose can turn around.” He concluded, “It is our historical tradition and the destiny of our nation to stop those who are keen on global domination and threaten to split up and enslave our Motherland. Rest assured that we will do it this time as well.”
I report on these declarations without commentary, except to say, first, that Western imperialist aggression is completely without moral justification, and it is not politically intelligent in the current geopolitical situation; and secondly, Putin may not be bluffing. The Western elites must cease their aggression and seek a negotiated settlement with Russia, respecting its security interests.
On the idealist green agenda
On September 16, 2022, Putin took questions from the media following his participation in the latest meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Putin observed that the energy crisis in Europe did not begin with the special military operation in Donbass. It actually started earlier, with the green agenda. He observed that “the green agenda is definitely important, and we need to take climate action and avoid reaching the point of no return when climate change becomes irreversible.” However, “everything must be done carefully and gradually.” But Western politicians ignored this maxim, following “momentary political considerations.” They completely closed down the hydrocarbon energy programs in their countries, even though the green infrastructure was not sufficiently developed to support the energy needs for economic and industrial growth. Now, they cast the blame elsewhere, seeking to protect themselves from the indignation of their citizens. It is a farse, Putin declared, in which they seek to blame Russia for their own mistakes.
We have a similar dynamic in the USA, with an ecology movement making idealist demands without much effort dedicated to the development of a long-term proposal that would enhance the productivity and strength of the national economy in the context of a gradual transition to renewable energy. Reacting to concessions to demands of the ecology movement, the Republican Party and the right claim that environmental measures have damaged the economy, a claim for which the ecology movement, lacking a well-developed plan, has no effective response, other than the accusation that those who make the claim are profit-seekers and/or climate-change deniers. Thus, there has emerged polarization over an issue concerning which there ought to be intelligent consensus, forged by responsible and effective leadership.
Such ecological idealism that does not exist in Cuba, where the revolutionary government must give priority to expanding the productivity of the economy and providing for the concrete daily needs of the people. Of necessity, in a real revolutionary struggle to construct socialism, the need to transition to renewable forms of energy is balanced with the productivity requirements of the national economy, with both addressed in a long-term plan presented to the people.
I am reminded of “The infantile disorder of ‘Left Wing’ Communism,” a pamphlet written by V. I. Lenin in April 1920, two and one-half years after the taking of power by the Bolshevik Party. For Lenin, the disorder involves a radical extremism not based on participation in a real revolution, in the study of the history of revolutions, or in objective analysis of existing national and world conditions. Lenin observed that communism must struggle against the infantile disorder of unreflective extremism in its own ranks. It must develop the art of politics, capable of making necessary compromises with imperialism and forming alliances with reformist bourgeois parties. It must display flexibility in tactics, developing them on the basis of objective analysis of national and international conditions as well as on reflection on the experience of other revolutionary movements
Lenin believed that the childish extreme radicalism of the Left had brought “the most serious harm to communism.” He believed that the lack of an intelligent flexibility in tactics was preventing the communist vanguard from bringing the masses over to its side.
A free subscription option is available, with capacity to read, send, and share all posts. A paid subscription ($5 per month or $40 per year) enables you to make comments and to support the costs of the column; paid subscribers also receive a free PDF copy of my book on Cuba and the world-system.
Follow me on Twitter: Charles McKelvey@CharlesMcKelv14