In December 2011, then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was positioned to reclaim his role as the President of Russia after the formalities of the March 2012 elections.
Fittingly, Putin hosted a lavish banquet at New Century, Moscow’s richest equestrian club, for members of the Valdai Club as well as distinguished academics and journalists from around the world.
“The fare was extravagant: smoked trout, duck liver, venison soup, rhubarb sorbet, veal cheeks, and pear soup with caramel,” according to authors of the The Russia-China Axis, Douglas E. Schoen and Melik Kaylan.
Putin addressed his guests on topics ranging from the “Russian government’s loss of public trust to his own indispensable leadership.”
He later directed his focus on the US and addressed the Americans in attendance, “You ask me whether we are going to change,” he said. “The ball is in your court. Will you change?” He then went on to express his disapproval of the US’ plan to build a missile defence system that he believed would pose a deliberate threat to Russia’s national security.
Putin then added that the only reason the US had any interest in relations with Moscow was that Russia was the only country that could “destroy America in half an hour or less.”
Writes Schoen and Kaylan: “It would be a difficult to find a statement more revealing about Putin’s true position regarding the United States.”
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