With tensions between Russia and the West reaching Cold War levels, Valdai represented the first time we’ve heard Putin speak in a long-form discussion since Helsinki and the events thereafter — IL-20, Khashoggi, etc.
So, this talk is worth everyone’s time. And when I say everyone’s I mean every single person who could be affected by the breakdown of the U.S. political system and how that spills over onto Russia’s shores.
In other words, pretty much everyone on the planet.
Because what Putin did at Valdai was to lay down the new rules of conduct in geopolitical affairs. He put the U.S. and European oligarchs I call The Davos Crowd on notice.
There is a limit to your provocations and attempts to undermine Russia. So don’t cross that line.
Peace Through Strength
The big quote from his talk is the one everyone is focusing on, and rightly so, Russia’s policy about using nuclear weapons.
It’s not that Putin’s stance was any different than in the past. Russia will strike back at an aggressor under any circumstance where the future of Russia is at stake. It was his assurance that in doing so 1) it would be just and righteous “dying like martyrs” and 2) so swift and brutal the aggressors would “die like dogs” bereft of the chance to ask for salvation.
Those are strong words. They are the words of a meek man. And the word meek, as Jordan Peterson reminds us, describes someone who has weapons, knows how to use them and keeps them sheathed until they have no other option.
The reaction from the audience (see video above) was nervous laughter, but I don’t think Putin was having one over on anyone.
He was serious. This is the very definition of meek.
It is really no different than the attitude of Secretary of State James Mattis who said, “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f$*k with me, I’ll kill you all.”
Men like this are not to be tested too hard. And Putin’s response to the shooting down of the IL-20 plane and its crew was to cross a bunch of diplomatic lines by handing out S-300s to Syria and erecting a de facto no-fly zone over Western Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Notice how there have been no attacks or even harsh language coming out of Israel or the U.S. in the past few weeks. The failure of the British/French/Israeli operation to sucker Trump into an invasion of Syria is now complete.
And I’m convinced that Nikki Haley paid the price.