In what has become an annual event, the Valdai Discussion Club was held in Sochi, Russia last week.
As has become customary, Russian president Vladimir Putin was the keynote guest gracing the stage during the forum’s plenary session.
A question from a member of the audience, a distinguished professor from King’s College, London, prompted Putin to weigh in on the topic of ethnic separatism.
It was another tour de force by one of the only truly deep thinkers on the world stage.
Rattling off one citation after another, the trained Saint Petersburg lawyer systematically ripped Western governments for their support of Kosovo’s indepenedence in 2008.
He said the US and Europe had opened a Pandora’s Box which has led directly to the crisis in Catalonia, by justifying secession.
Though he didn’t mention it, other disputed independence declarations in the former Soviet space such as those in Crimea, Donbass, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transdnistria, and Nagorno-Karabakh were also legitimized by the legal precedent demanded by Washington and NATO over Kosovo.
Observing that ethnic separatism was not always a successful solution to regional and national conflicts, Putin decried the genie released by western powers, which they are now so desperate to put back into the bottle.