Addressing a foreign policy conference hosted by the Russian foreign policy think tank the Valdai Club on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that he ordered Kremlin officials to this week publicly express concern about the possible deployment of a dirty bomb by Ukraine.
At the annual conference, Putin’s speech addressed calls made by Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu to Western officials this week in which he claimed Moscow had evidence that Ukraine was planning a false flag attack on Ukraine soil. According to Putin, the intelligence is real and Kremlin officials made the news public under his orders.
Putin said Moscow learned of an “incident with a so-called ‘dirty bomb’ being prepared,” and even claimed that his government knew where it was being prepared.
The Russian president did not offer any more information about the intelligence he allegedly received, but insisted that the intelligence was real and that he ordered Kremlin officials to reach out to NATO countries to express concern.
Putin Slams “Cosmopolitan” West
Also during the speech, Putin painted a picture of “two Wests,” criticizing ultra-progressives in the United States and Europe and casting doubt on the possibility of the Biden administration having a hand in negotiating a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia.
“There are at least two Wests,” Putin told the audience, describing one that focuses on “traditional, mainly Christian values” and another that is “aggressive, cosmopolitan, neocolonial, acting as the weapon of the neoliberal elite.” The Russian president described some of the values of Western progressives as “pretty strange” and accused left-wing leaders of pushing those values on the rest of the world.
Putin’s comments may give ammunition to Democrats in the United States ahead of the November mid-term elections, allowing candidates to argue that Putin shares some ideological beliefs with the Republicans.
It’s hard to ignore, however, the fact that Putin’s comments focused more heavily on his opposition to what some describe as “Woke” progressive politics in Europe and the United States rather than his support of Western conservatives – particularly given his harsh criticism of former Conservative British Prime Minister Liz Truss during the same speech, whom he blamed for heightened talk of a nuclear conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The comments could cast doubt on the possibility of the United States leading a new round of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. While the Kremlin recently expressed interest in Western countries taking part in a fresh round of negotiations, Putin’s staunch opposition to the ideological positions of the Biden White House could prove a roadblock given that the Kremlin has already suggested that the United States is effectively already at “war” with Russia.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.