In one heck of a foreign policy speech on Thursday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin trolled the United States, calling it an “empire” and saying “[they] often think they can make some little mistakes … because they’re so powerful. But when the number of these mistakes keeps growing, it reaches a level they cannot sustain.”
He added that this “impunity” is “the result of the monopoly from a unipolar world…luckily this monopoly is disappearing. It’s almost done.”
He wasn’t finished though.
Putin also said the United States bears “some responsibility” for the death of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident and a Washington Post contributor. Khashoggi disappeared after walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and, according to Turkish investigators, was brutally murdered by a Saudi assassination squad inside the consulate general’s office.
Putin added that the “hypersonic” weapons (which he has previously compared to a “meteorite” and “ball of fire”), against which the U.S. cannot defend itself, would be the best in the world.
Responding to a question from the audience, he said that while Russia wouldn’t use the weapon — which can reportedly carry a nuclear warhead — in preemptive strike, that “retaliation is inevitable” and that Russians “as victims of aggression, as martyrs, will go to heaven.”
The aggressors, he said, would “simply die because they won’t even have time to repent.” The audience, reported Agency France-Presse, laughed.
Putin boasted of these hypersonic missiles and other new capabilities, including underwater drones, in March.
Thursday night’s foreign policy speech at an annual event in Sochi came just one week before U.S. and NATO forces, along with NATO allies and partners, will take part in a massive war game specifically designed to send a message of deterrence to Russia.
President Donald Trump has made several overtures to Putin since taking office, including meeting him for a summit in Helsinki in July, during which he said he believed the Russian president when he said his country did not interfere in the 2016 presidential elections.
This ran contrary to virtually all U.S. intelligence on the matter.
President Trump also called Putin’s offer to help investigate who meddled in the presidential elections “incredible” (as in, a great one, not one that lacked credibility), and said he was certain the U.S. would have “an extraordinary relationship” with Russia.
During Thursday’s speech, Putin certainly seemed more circumspect, saying that Russia is strengthening its relationships with Asia and the Middle East. For instance, he said Russia is loaning Egypt billions of dollars to cover the cost of a Russian-built nuclear power plant there. He also outlined a new military deal with Beijing.
When it came to the U.S., Putin said, “It’s better to talk, to have a conversation, than to be like cats and dogs that keep fighting each other.”