WLadimir Putin’s appearance at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum has been postponed by more than an hour and a half this year. Due to a hacker attack, it was said. The political message was clear from the statements of the forum participants and reports from the state media that, despite Western sanctions, “everything will be wonderful with Russia’s economy, even if not immediately”, as a TV presenter put it, because one is “at the center of global tectonic shifts”. This is also what the President said when he finally appeared, alongside Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and the presenter Margarita Simonyan from the state broadcaster RT, who thanked “our leader” for having found time.
In a long speech, Putin himself then complained that the Western partners had undermined the principles of cooperation “for their ambitions” and that the USA wanted to maintain the “monopolar world order”. According to Putin, all peoples who do not belong to the western world, the “golden billion” of the world’s population, are considered “second-rate people”.
He said again that the economic sanctions and withdrawal of Western companies from Russia had failed; recently he used the German loan word “Blitzkrieg”. The fact that “we are strong people” shows the “entire thousand-year history of our country,” said Putin, who generally attached great importance to sacrifices for the historical perspective.
Putin threatens to raise prices
Putin hardly bothered with Russian problems. He vowed to fight inflation – which has now given way to gradual deflation and economists see the beginning of a downward spiral. Putin promised the Russians cheaper mortgages and in a long part of the speech held out the prospect of rising prices, declining quality of life, more “populism” and a “change of elites” due to “constant election victories” of the relevant parties (which remained unclear). .
EU countries do not conduct “special operations” and yet have higher inflation rates than Russia, says Putin, referring to the war against Ukraine, which he also called a “liberation operation in Donbass”, as if no other regions of Ukraine were targeted.
The decision (to invade Ukraine, ed.) was “difficult” and “forced” to ensure Russia’s security and sovereignty, Putin said, again claiming the West had engaged in “military appropriation of the neighboring country.” He also praised Russia’s soldiers and volunteer fighters in Ukraine.
The hall applauded when Putin said that all the goals of the “special operation” were being achieved, the pledge for which was courage and heroism on the part of the soldiers. Kazakhstan’s president, who is keen on working with the West, sat frozen as Putin pledged that Russia would work with any country that wanted it and had “real leaders” who would resist American pressure.
gas war against the West
Putin accused the Europeans of misguided energy policies, saying that they themselves were to blame for the rising prices. Other officials made similar statements at the forum, such as Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, who on Thursday also brought up Nord Stream 2 – the pipeline project stopped after Putin recognized the “People’s Republics” shortly before the attack on Ukraine ; it is “ready for operation at any moment”.
LPG will also not be able to cover European demand, said Miller. The Kremlin’s current goal is apparently to increase the suffering in the West by curbing gas supplies in order to relax the sanctions or at least to harm the opponent because it sees itself as more capable of suffering.
Putin courts Russia’s riches
In his speech, Putin accused “demagogues” of blaming Russia for rising fertilizer prices and said Russia will supply grain to countries in Africa and the Middle East threatened by hunger. Ukraine should demine its ports, Putin repeats, responding to allegations of occupying or blocking the neighboring country’s ports and not letting Ukrainian grain onto the market. At the address of Russia’s rich who have lost a lot of money abroad, Putin advertised investing in Russia: There are great opportunities.
This was a reminder of the motto of this year’s forum, “New World – New Opportunities”. The decisive battle against the West, which Moscow says is currently raging in Ukraine, should also have something positive. No representatives at all came to St. Petersburg this year from “unfriendly countries” (Moscow’s list includes all EU member states, the USA and Great Britain, among others). Instead, representatives of the Afghan radical Islamist Taliban were sighted. Denis Puschilin, the “head” of the pro-Russian “Donetsk People’s Republic” in Donbass, had already set the tone for the forum on Wednesday evening, opening the event alongside the Petersburg governor with a cannon shot.