Tenth Anniversary of Putin’s Munich Speech: A Commitment to Failure

15 Feb 2017

(EDM) The annual Munich Security Conference will take place later this week (February 17–19). And it was ten years ago at this forum that President Vladimir Putin delivered an inflammatory speech detailing Russia’s deep dissatisfaction with the world order. A decade hence, Russian official media is today full of commentary on the spectacular success the country has purportedly achieved by following the course set by that speech (TASSRIA Novosti, February 10). Although he did not, in fact, say much in his 2007 Munich address that had not been said by Russian officials before, Western participants fixated on the assertive way that Putin delivered Moscow’s complaints about the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and objections to the United States’ global “hegemony.” That demonstrated confidence was based on three key assumptions: a) the West was weak and divided; b) Russia was rising and regaining its strength; and c) the lectures about values and the deficiencies in Russian democracy were attempts to deny a resurgent Russia its legitimate place in the multipolar world. All three assumptions now need serious rethinking. And yet, Putin is not merely persisting in staying the Munich course, but has upped the stakes and now is taking risks far beyond the level that his Western (as well as Chinese) counterparts see as acceptable (RBC, February 10). [...]

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