In his latest speech last week, Vladimir Putin was desperate to convince foreign audiences that a so-called “new world order” was on the horizon. In his remarks, given at the 19th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, the Russian president dropped some key messages to those who dared to question his vision of the Kremlin's new place on the global stage—both with what he said out loud, and what he didn’t.
Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs, chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, asked Putin about comments he made four years ago on the potential use of nuclear weapons. “You said that we would all go to heaven, but we’re in no hurry to get there, right?” In response, Putin held a long theatrical pause. He wouldn’t answer the question. Lukyanov noted: “You’ve stopped to think. That’s disconcerting.”
In a response that seemed to spotlight the descent of Russian foreign policy to nuclear terror tactics, Putin scoffed: “I did it on purpose to make you worry a little. Mission accomplished.”
Putin’s answer stumped his own media mouthpieces. So much so that Margarita Simonyan, head of state news agency RT, decided to take the non-response as an opportunity to reaffirm her readiness for martyrdom for the sake of the Russian president.
During the latest broadcast of Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov on state television, where Simonyan is always the first guest to deliver her monologue and the only queen bee who is allowed to sit down in the studio, she gushed over Putin’s remarks in Valdai.
“A transformation of the world is underway and that is the source of hope. When you sit in that auditorium, you experience hope,” Simonyan said. “For me, it was a session of psychotherapy, as meetings with Putin customarily tend to be. A correct psychotherapy session.”
By “correct” kind of psychotherapy, Simonyan explained, she meant that Putin’s ideas are worth dying for. “The world is at a dead-end—first and foremost, in terms of values. If the Western world continues to develop in the same way and proceeds along the same insane trajectory, then it’s headed towards the destruction of mankind—even without any kind of a war,” she said. “Another fifty to a hundred years and no one will give birth anymore. No one will be able to give birth. With all the hormonal therapies, with their pharmaceutical lobbies, with brainwashing the mentality of their own nation and others, their own people and their own empires.”
She went on: “I don’t want to live in this kind of a world. It’s better to go to heaven right away, as Putin said: We’ll go to heaven and they’ll just croak.”
The panelists admitted that they “all shuddered” after the pause Putin made when confronted with Fyodor’s question. Nonetheless, they emphasized that they would rather die than live in a world where people can deal with their own sexuality according to their own free will. Simonyan proclaimed her unwillingness “to live in the world where I’d be prohibited to put dresses on my daughters and to explain to my son that he is a boy.” She concluded: “This is already happening in many countries. For me, it’s unbearable. For me, this is worse than war. Indeed, it’s worse than war.”
Simonyan proceeded to describe the beauty of war, as opposed to societal freedoms. “War has goals. Along with tragedies, pain and other understandable things, war has pride, the happiness of victory, and certain personal growth. There are changes in personality that lead to deeper self-awareness as a part of your nation, as a part of certain values and ideals,” she said. “What does that ultra-liberal fascist trash have? I don’t know. It spreads as an uncontrollable tumor, against which the chemotherapy is ineffective. If you allow it anywhere near your borders, before you know it, you’ll be living in a country that is dictating that you must live a certain way. With our mentality, to live this way is unbearable.”
She added that returning to everyday matters after this “psychotherapy session” with Putin is “scary” and questioned: “Will we win? Do we have enough strength? Do we have enough weapons? We’re not talking about a victory over Ukraine... right now, it’s abundantly clear that we’re dealing with the origin of that tumor I just mentioned, with the monstrous organism that is known as the collective Western world. It’s powerful, successful, well-armed and at the same time, utterly screwed-up, hotheaded and totally uneducated.”
Russia’s terror tactics against the Ukrainian civilians, which generated some pushback even on the tightly controlled state television, suggest that Putin would be perfectly willing to harm countless civilians of other nations, as well as his own. Nonetheless, some state media experts attempted to interpret Putin’s silence in a way that doesn’t involve drinking nuclear Kool-Aid.
Evgeny Buzhinsky, a retired lieutenant-general of the Russian Armed Forces, tried to discuss the possibility of negotiations with the West, only to be shut down by both Simonyan and Solovyov. The host asked Buzhinsky: “What is the source of your optimism? What makes you think that by the year 2026 there’ll be anyone left to talk to?” Simonyan chimed in: “The one who is positively minded is ill-informed.” Buzhinsky sheepishly noted: “I’d like to think about good things and not about all of us being gone, even though I understand that it’s nice to be in heaven... but the president didn’t give a clear answer as to whether we’re in a rush to get there.”
During Solovyov’s show on Monday, the host and guests continued their attempts to convince fellow Russians that dying would be a better option as opposed to being defeated. Professor Dmitry Evstafiev offered up a hypothesis that if they lose, Russians would be exhibited in American zoos along with animals. He said, “Western people like colonialism... They want to have us in their zoos. They will come and see—over there is an elephant and over here is a Russian... Don’t come close and don’t try to feed him through the cage.”