Society risks a return of world wars without a concerted international effort to avoid it, Russian president Vladimir Putin has warned.
During a special address at the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos Agenda conference on Wednesday, Putin said there were parallels between the current era and the 1920s and 1930s, a period that led to the “catastrophic World War II.”
“Nowadays such a heated conflict is not possible, I hope,” Putin said. “Because it will mean the end of our civilisation.
“But I’d like the reiterate that the situation might develop unpredictably and uncontrollably if we sit on our hands doing nothing to avoid it. There’s a possibility that we might experience an actual collapse in global development that might result in a fight of all against all.”
Putin labelled such as a “grim dystopia.”
The risk of a return to war has developed over many years due to issues such as inequality, growing political radicalisation, and growing international tensions, he said.
“International institutions are weakening, regional conflicts are multiplying, the global security system is degrading,” Putin said.
COVID-19 had exacerbated all of these problems, he said.
The Russian president called for more international dialogue and cooperation to combat the world’s issues.
“We need ensure development following a different path — one that is positive, balanced and constructive,” he said.
He also warned countries away from unilateral actions such as sanctions and embargoes. Multiple countries have issued sanctions against Russia.
“The use of trade barriers, illegitimate sanctions, restrictions in the financial, technological and information spheres — such a game without rules is dramatically increasing the risks of the unilateral use of military force, which is very dangerous,” Putin said.
The Russian president held his first call with new US president Joe Biden on Tuesday. The pair agreed an extension to the New START nuclear weapons treaty, which was due to expire next month. Putin called the move a “step in the right direction.”
As well as calling for a strengthening of international institutions and cooperation, Putin used his speech to call for a reigning in of the power of Big Tech.
“How well does this monopolism correlate with the public interest?” he said. “Where is the distinction between successful global businesses, sought after services, and big data consolidation on the one hand, and the efforts to rule society in a rude and self-serving manner by substituting for legitimate democratic institutions, by encroaching on or restricting the national right of people to decide for themselves how to live, what to chose and what view to express freely on the other hand.
“We have seen all of this just recently in the United States and everyone understands quite well what I’m talking about and I’m sure that the majority of people share this view.”
WATCH: Press secretary confirms Biden-Putin phone call