In declaring liberalism obsolete, Vladimir Putin was using some well-aimed hyperbole to troll the West.
But he set the tone for a summit that failed to prove him wrong.
He looked on with glee as President Trump joked about Russian election meddling, fake news and “getting rid of journalists”.
The West wants the Russian president’s agents handed over for bringing down a civilian airline – which left more than 200 dead, including 10 Britons – and for taking chemical weapons to Salisbury, killing another woman.
But Theresa May still found the time to meet him.
Also swaggering through the throng of world leaders was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
US spies say it is highly likely he ordered the hit on journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A UN report fingered him as the likely mastermind of the assassination and a campaign targeting critics abroad.
But despite that outrage nine months ago, Mr bin Salman could also bathe in the G20 spotlight and hope it might cleanse some of his blood-stained reputation.
He was also on the list of strongmen Theresa May chose to meet with.
We are told she called for open and transparent trials of the suspects in the murder in Saudi Arabia but that entirely misses the point if, as the UN thinks, it is the crown prince himself who should be under investigation.
Mrs May also met Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been responsible for shutting down his country’s free press and causing thousands to be locked up, stigmatised and thrown out of work.
As if the G20 wasn’t looking gangster enough, there was also a fond wave to the young godfather of Pyongyang.
Donald Trump “put out a feeler” to see if Kim Jong Un fancied coming out to play on the Korean border during the US president’s visit to the peninsula this weekend.
Supporters of the G20 will point to progress in efforts against terrorists using the internet, the tentative thaw in frozen US Chinese trade talks, and the fact that 19 countries agreed to continue fighting climate change.
Never mind the fact America refused to back the UK’s call to tackle the climate emergency.
US diplomats worked hard to water down the climate change goals of the final communique and the net result is a summit that ends without unanimous support for efforts to save the planet.
Then there is the immense amount of carbon expended getting everybody here.
Of course, it’s good for the world’s richest nations to try to make the world safer and more prosperous by meeting together – but perceptions are also all-important.
Osaka allowed authoritarians and their apologists to mingle, strut their stuff and, in some cases, literally get away with murder.
Supporters of the liberal rules-based world order took second place.
If they want to prove Mr Putin wrong about the death of liberalism, they will need to do better than they have in the last few days.
In fact, they may need to think long and hard before calling any more such jamborees.
Source: SKY NEWS