By Stepan Kravchenko
Friday, October 24, 2014
MOSCOW -- The U.S. is behaving like "Big Brother" and blackmailing world leaders while making imbalances in global relations worse, Russia's president said.
Current conflicts risk bringing world order to collapse, Vladimir Putin told the annual Valdai Club in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The Cold War's "victors" are dismantling established international laws and relations, while the global security system has become weak and deformed, with the U.S. acting like the "nouveau riche" as global leader, he said.
"The Cold War has ended," Putin said. "But it ended without peace being achieved, without clear and transparent agreements on the new rules and standards."
Russia has clashed with the U.S. over conflicts from Syria to Ukraine, sending relations between the two countries to levels not seen since Soviet times. Putin, whose nation is on the brink of recession because of U.S. and European sanctions over Ukraine, also offered asylum to fugitive American government intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.
"Global anarchy" will grow unless clear mechanisms are established for resolving crises, Putin told the invited group of foreign and Russian academics and analysts. The U.S.'s "self-appointed" leadership has brought no good for other nations and a unipolar world amounts to a dictatorship, he said.
"The United States does not seek confrontation with Russia, but we cannot and will not compromise on the principles on which security in Europe and North America rests," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in response today in Washington.
Psaki said the U.S. was committed to upholding Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity while continuing to cooperate with Russia on other issues, including destroying nuclear stockpiles and Syria's chemical weapons cache.
"Our focus is on continuing to engage with Russia on areas of mutual concern, and we're hopeful that we'll be able to continue to do that," Psaki said, "while we still certainly have disagreements on some issues."
Putin also attacked globalization, which he said has "disillusioned" many countries and risks hurting trust in the U.S. and its allies. More nations are trying to escape dependence on the dollar as a reserve currency by forming alternative financial systems, according to the Russian leader.
Russia doesn't want to restore its empire or have a special place in the world, Putin said. While it's not seeking superpower status in international relations, it wants its interests to be respected, he said.
Putin also commented on Crimea, whose annexation by Russia in March triggered U.S. and European Union sanctions that have since been intensified over the insurgency in Ukraine's east. Absorbing the Black Sea peninsula that was earlier part of Russia complied with United Nations norms and followed an armed seizure of power in Kiev, he said.
Russia wouldn't "mindlessly burn up" foreign currency reserves to defend the ruble, Putin said, as he acknowledged that the reserves were shrinking from interventions in the market. Under pressure from sanctions and falling oil prices, the ruble fell to a record today against the central bank's target dollar-euro basket.
While Ukraine's crisis isn't the prime cause of Russia's worsening ties with the U.S and its allies, attempts are being made "once again to create the image of an enemy, as during the years of the Cold War" and to divide up the world, Putin said.
The Russian people sensed danger and are rallying around their leader, said Putin, who described himself as the country's biggest nationalist. There were similarities between Russia now and the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks, he said.
Putin said that while President Barack Obama sees Russia as a threat, Russia didn't seek a confrontation with the U.S.
The sanctions undermine World Trade Organization rules and Russia remains ready for dialogue over normalizing economic ties, he said.
Even so, Russia won't "beg for anything" in response to the measures, nor is it walling itself off from the world, according to Putin. "External pressure, just as in the past, is only consolidating our society, not weakening it."
He rejected a claim attributed to the Kremlin's first deputy chief of staff, Vyacheslav Volodin, that "without Putin, there is no Russia." The president told his audience that "Russia can get by without people like me."
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