Putin accuses US of undermining global stability
MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin of Russia said Friday that the world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place because of U.S. attempts to enforce its will on other countries and that his nation will not comply.
In an emotional speech before international political experts, Putin unleashed scathing criticism of the United States for what he called its disregard of international law and unilateral use of force.
If the United State fails to abandon its "desire of eternal domination," then "hopes for peaceful and stable development will be illusory, and today's upheavals will herald the collapse of global world order," Putin said during a meeting that lasted about three hours in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
His voice strained with anger, Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of trying to "tailor the world exclusively to their needs" since the end of the Cold War, using economic pressure and military force and often supporting extremist groups to achieve their goals.
He cited the wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria as examples of flawed moves that have led to chaos and left Washington and its allies "fighting against the results of their own policy."
"They are throwing their might to remove the risks they have created themselves, and they are paying an ever increasing price," Putin said.
"Unilateral diktat and attempts to enforce their own cliche on others bring opposite result: escalation of conflicts instead of their settlement, widening area of chaos in place of stable sovereign states, support for dubious elements from open neo-Nazis to Islamic radicals instead of democracy."
He said that Russia has been cold-shouldered by the West, despite its eagerness to cooperate.
The U.S. and the European Union imposed tough sanctions on Russia after it annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea populated mostly by Russian speakers, and allegedly armed rebels fighting for independence in eastern Ukraine.
Putin also has maintained support for President Bashar Assad of Syria in a civil war that has helped destabilize the Middle East. The U.S. has demanded that the Syrian leader step down.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki reacted to Putin's speech by saying the U.S. "does not seek confrontation with Russia, but we cannot and will not compromise on the principles on which security in Europe and North America rest."
She said there may be disagreements, "but we remain committed to upholding Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Psaki also told reporters that the U.S. has been able to work with Russia on a range of issues and hopes to engage with Moscow again on areas of mutual concern.
In Ukraine, Putin said, the West has ignored Russia's legitimate interests in its neighbor and supported the ouster of Ukraine's former Russian-leaning president.
He accused the West of breaking its promises, citing a February phone conversation with President Barack Obama just hours before protesters in Kiev drove Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych out of office.
Putin denied allegations that Russia wants to split Ukraine, but he said the rebel regions should be allowed to hold local elections as they plan on Nov. 2, not in December as the Ukrainian government wants.
He said the withdrawal of forces under the cease-fire deal should create conditions for gradually rebuilding ties between the central authorities and the rebel regions.
The Russian leader is well known for having said that the breakup of the Soviet Union was "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century.
But Putin denied allegations that Russia wants to rebuild the Soviet empire.
Evoking the archetypal image of the Russian bear, Putin warned that his nation will firmly stand its ground to defend its vital interests.
"The bear is the master of the taiga (a subarctic forest). It's not going to move to other climate zones," he said. "But it's not going to give up its taiga to anyone."
"Russia is not demanding some special, exclusive place in the world," he said. "While respecting interests of others, we simply want our interests to be taken into account, too, and our position to be respected."
AP correspondent Matt Lee contributed from Washington.