In an interview with the Financial Times prior to leaving for the G20 summit in Japan this weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin said "the liberal idea” that has underpinned Western democracies for several decades had "outlived its purpose" as the public turned against immigration, open borders, and multiculturalism, calling these ideas "no longer tenable".
The four term President pointed to the waves of immigration from conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East which had fostered crime and social strains, in turn fuelling an anti-establishment backlash in Europe, saying, "[Liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone," and that liberalism conflicted with "the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population."
He criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for allowing large numbers of refugees to settle in Germany as a “cardinal mistake” saying, "This liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. That migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected."
President Putin said, “Every crime must have its punishment. The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.” Likewise, President Putin praised United States President Donald Trump for trying to stop the flow of migrants and drugs coming through and from Mexico.
President Putin praised President Trump as a "talented person" who knew how to relate to voters. Regarding the US-China trade war and geopolitical tensions in the Gulf between the US and Iran, President Putin said the situation had become “explosive” and stem from American unilateralism and the lack of rules underpinning world order.
Despite a struggling economy, President Putin has sought to establish Russia as a counterweight to the liberal Western order. His remarks carry weight since the liberal order that was established in the wake of the World War Two is starting to crack apart. Western nations have experienced the failures of liberalism in a rapid succession of events over the last decade from an ongoing financial crisis, Brexit and the undemocratic nature of the European Union, the rise of China as a major economic force, and an American President who wants his nation to prioritize its own citizens.
President Putin said liberal governments had not acted to reassure citizens but instead pursued a mindless multiculturalism embracing, among other things, sexual diversity. “I am not trying to insult anyone because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia. But we have no problem with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish,” he said. “But some things do appear excessive to us. They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles.” The President added, “Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.”