The Russian President used his speech to justify the present composition of the UN Security Council, to warn about the dangers of reforming it and making accusations to the West. He briefly addressed the crisis in Ukraine and he explained Russia's role in Syria. Interestingly enough, absent from his speech were Iran and Israel.
Message to America
"We all know that after the end of the Cold War, a single centre of domination emerged in the world. And then those who found themselves at the top of that pyramid were tempted to think that if they were so strong and exceptional then they knew better than anyone what to do and why should they reckon with the UN, which (..) 'stands in the way'. "
Russia is still bitter about losing the prominence it enjoyed during the Cold War and, apparently, Mr Putin believes the world needs to go back to that polarisation since US hegemony, in his opinion, caused anarchy – and therefore destabilisation. The Russian president's accusation that the US doesn't respect the UN is not only false but also applicable to Russia, a country that defies the UN and the international law, over and over again, and makes use of its seat at the UNSC to block action against itself.
"We also remember certain episodes from the history of the Soviet Union. "Social experiments" for export (..) It seem, however, that far from learning from others' mistakes, everyone just keeps repeating them. And so the export of revolutions, this time of so-called "democratic" one, continues."
Russia, by admiting the mistakes done by the Soviet Union, is signalling that the Russian Federation differs from the USSR (though it behaves in a similar fashion): it's not ideological, it's pragmatic; a for-profit state. However, it is correct when it draws a comparison between the Soviet obsession with spreading Communism around the world with the Western (in particular, the US) obsession with spreading Democracy (that isn't exactly a universal solution).
"I cannot help asking those who have caused this situation: do you realise now what you have done? (..) Policies based on self-conceit, and belief in one's exceptionality and impunity have never been abandoned."
Said the pot to the kettle. Does Russia realise what it has done in the Middle East (since the post-WWII), in Africa, in Latin-America, in Asia, and now in Eastern Europe? Does Russia realise what's doing in order to increase its weapons sales? Russia also draws policies based on self-conceit, in its “exceptionality” and impunity – so this was perhaps the most hypocritical statement made by President Putin in his speech.
"It's now obvious that the power vacuum created in some countries of the Middle East and North Africa led to the emergence of anarchy areas. Those immediately started to be filled with extremists and terrorists."
True. But what solutions did Russia present at the time? The usual ones: leave the dictator be, let the dictator continue to kill his own people, let them kill each other with no external interference (that way we sell guns to the militants in the black market and make a killing). Pointing fingers is good when you introduce viable solutions; but when you don't (because you want to guarantee that your own people won't receive external help to topple your regime), you do not have the right to make accusations.
"One should not play with or manipulate words"
The sweet-sour flavour of hypocrisy (Ref: international law). Vladimir Putin tried to manipulate the minds of Middle Eastern and North African leaders (a very Soviet trait) who may feel that the America-Iran rapprochement may endanger their national interests and, now, Russia is trying to draw them to its camp – Russia is inclusively trying to allure the Kurds.
Blaming the West for Rise of ISIS
"Tens of thousands of militants are fighting under the banners of the so-called 'Islamic State'. Its ranks include Iraqi servicemen who were thrown out into the street after the invasion of Iraq in 2003."
Indeed, ISIS was controlled by former Saddam Hussein's men who planned to create an insurgency due to the US' lack of wisdom in dealing with them (they risk doing the same with al-Assad now); but what did Russia do to prevent the rise of ISIS? Did those Iraqi servicemen turn to Russia for weapons and how much did Russia make from the deal? Rather than making accusations, Russia should use the UNGA podium to explain its true role in world current affairs.
"It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one's service in order to achieve one's own political goals in the hope of 'dealing with them' or, in other words, liquidating them later."
Is this a confession disguised as an accusation? Chechnya comes to mind.
Russia's Role in Countering Terrorism
"Unfortunately, Russia is not an exception, we cannot allow these criminals who have already felt the smell of blood, to return back home and continue their evil doings. No one wants this to happen, does he?"
Of course not. But when President Putin said the Imams had to help “these criminals who felt the smell of blood” put down their weapons and return to a normal life: what did he mean (when apparently they can't go back home lest they “continue their evil doings”)? The Russian president is not only justifying his domestic policies towards Russian Muslim communities and regions, but also advocating that Muslims should stay in the Middle East – hence his economic and reconstruction plans to avoid the Islamic migration to Europe.
"Today, we provide military and technical assistance to both Iraq and Syria that are fighting terrorist groups. We think is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its Armed Forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face-to-face. We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad's Armed Forces and Kurd Militia are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organisations in Syria."
Brilliant and direct. The inclusion of the “Kurd Militia” is a letter of intent: if America doesn't want to arm the Kurds (y otras cositas más), Russia will fill that vacuum. The most interesting passage of the whole speech.
"Muslim countries are to play a key role in the coalition, even more so because the Islamic State does not only pose a direct threat to them but also desecrates one of the greatest world religions by its bloody crimes. The ideologists of militants make a mockery of Islam and pervert its true humanistic values."
Did President Putin have previous access to President Obama's speech or did the two agree on including this passage in their respective statements? It's practically a quote. Unless, Russia made a last minute addition to Vladimir Putin's speech after Barack Obama's delivery.
Addressing the Migrant Crisis
"We hope that the international community will be able to develop a comprehensive strategy of political stabilisation as well as social and economic recovery of the Middle East. Then there would be no need for new refugee camps."
Russia intends to work politically to find solutions with other partners (China, for sure) to help bringing about a social and economic recovery of the ME – how does Russia see Israel in the middle of all this? Either way, it's clear that Mr Putin acknowledges the dangers of influx of migrants stemming from the ME.
"First, they continued their policy of expanding NATO and its military infrastructure. (..) Ukraine's territorial integrity cannot be ensured by threats and force of arms. What is needed is a genuine consideration for the interests and rights of the people in the Donbass region and respect their choice. (..) These steps will guarantee that Ukraine will develop as a civilised state (..)"
So Ukraine is not a civilised state now? How condescending of Pres. Putin. Russia occupied Crimea, in violation of the International Law, and it must face the consequences for its actions – NATO expansion is one of such consequences. If the People in the Donbass region feel Russian and want to be part of the Federation, then it must follow the proper legal channels to see its territory annexed by Russia.
Final Evaluation: an aggressive speech, that covered a lot of issues, but that didn't explain how Russia can do better than, or even be an alternative to, America and the West. Lost opportunity to make a bold move.
(Image Dowloaded from gadebate.un.org)