Putin’s FT interview is for the most part neither new nor particularly interesting, although its Skripal section sounds like an admission of guilt, which I didn’t expect at all. I could be reading it the wrong way, of course. My general impression is that Putin would very much like to get readmitted to G7/8 or some other big-league Western club, and that being China’s junior partner valued for its hydrocarbons and nukes isn’t quite the role he dreamed of playing when he embarked on the Ukrainian adventure in 2014.
The “liberalism” part could have been penned by a modestly educated Trump or Orbán supporter – possibly by a republican of the “Trump is the lesser evil” persuasion. The liberalism Putin is attacking is a parody, a straw man of the Democratic party’s cherished causes: open borders, minority glorification, fluid gender identity, the non-nuclear family. There’s not even a mention of free markets or human rights, the hallmarks of a more traditional liberalism, as if they had suddenly lost all relevance to Russia and the world. A derivative performance by an acceptance-seeking speaker for an affirmation-seeking audience.