Notes on Valdai 2021: Putin Touts Russia’s ‘Healthy Conservatism’

This year’s session of the annual Valdai International Discussion Club was organized in hybrid fashion, with most participants attending in person but some (myself included) choosing to participate remotely.

The foreign participants have also changed. Since 2014 there have been fewer experts on Russia and more people whose expertise includes international economics and politics. What began as a gathering of U.S. and European participants has expanded to include Chinese, Japanese and Middle Eastern attendees. The message now is that Russia is an essential global player and can offer solutions to global problems, including climate change. And yet, as this year’s meeting showed, Russia’s unique civilization is offered as an antidote to the fractious mores of a declining West. The conference theme was “Global Shake-Up in the 21st Century: The Individual, Values and the State.”