Harmonious relations between its peoples are the source of the country’s strength, the president has said
Russia’s ethnic and cultural diversity is an “all-conquering force” that many people outside the country fail to grasp, President Vladimir Putin has said. He added that attempts to sow discord within Russia or misrepresent it as a colonial power are doomed to failure.
Putin made the remarks on Friday during a virtual meeting with a body that advises him on ways to support ethnic minorities and ensure positive relations among the myriad groups represented in the country.
“Our nation was built on the value of multinational harmony. It’s the most important foundation of our consolidation, which only becomes stronger in the face of foreign pressure and threats,” the Russian president said.
Without stating specific countries, Putin dismissed Russia’s adversaries as “people with neocolonial thinking, dimwits in fact, who do not understand that this diversity makes us stronger.”
“When they talk about us, they think about themselves and imagine that we are like them. They say Russia has to be partitioned into dozens of small states. The goal is clear – to subjugate them, exploit them and use them for profit,” Putin claimed.
Some Western officials have argued that the conflict in Ukraine is colonialist in nature and motivated by irredentism. The same claim has been applied to Russia’s domestic situation, with suggestions that certain parts of the country such as Tatarstan, Buryatia, or the Chechen Republic, which have predominant populations from non-Russian ethnic groups, are in essence Moscow’s colonies.
Last June, the Helsinki Commission, a US Congress-funded organization, held a virtual conference which advocated for the “decolonization of Russia,” effectively promoting sovereignty for many of its regions.
Moscow has stated that its military campaign against Ukraine was motivated by Kiev’s longstanding failure to reconcile with Russian-speaking regions in the east, as well as increasingly harsh discrimination against ethnic Russians inside the country. It has also cited Ukraine’s growing militarization and involvement with NATO.
Russia has further argued that the conflict is part of a wider US-led proxy war against Moscow, which Washington intends to pursue “to the last Ukrainian.”
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