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Russia's Putin Suggests U.S. Bent On World Domination

  • RFE/RL

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and U.S. President Barack Obama exchange words prior to the first session of a G20 summit in St. Petersburg in September 2013.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and U.S. President Barack Obama exchange words prior to the first session of a G20 summit in St. Petersburg in September 2013.

President Vladimir Putin says Russia is facing Cold War-style containment efforts at the hands of the West and will oppose world domination by a single country.

However, Putin said Russia does not plan to wage "war against anyone," words seemingly aimed to reassure Western governments that are wondering about the limits of Moscow's aggression.

Putin's remarks on February 7 were the latest in a series of bitter denunciations of the United States and the European Union, which have imposed sanctions on Russia over its interference in Ukraine and are pressing him to drop support for separatists fighting government forces there.

"As for the idea that a war is being waged against our country, there is no war, thank God," he said during a labor-union congress in the Russian city of Sochi. "But it is perfectly clear that there is an attempt to hold back our development by various means."

Clearly referring to the United States, Putin said that the world order that emerged after the Soviet collapse was dominated by "one undisputed leader who wants to remain such -- one who assumes that everything is allowed to him, but that others only need what he allows them and what meets his own interests."

"Russia will never be satisfied with this kind of world order," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript. "Some may like living in a state of semi-occupation; we will not do this. But we do not intend to wage war against anyone. We intend to cooperate with everyone."

He held the meeting in the Black Sea resort as senior Western officials and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko piled pressure on Russia at a security conference in Munich, Germany -- the same annual event at which Putin delivered a landmark speech criticizing the United States and the West in 2007.

Putin's remarks came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama's White House released a new national security strategy that portrays Russia as a regional bully and a threat to international stability.

Shortly after Putin spoke in Sochi, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden sharply criticized him during a speech in Munich over Russia's interference in Ukraine and its treatment of Kremlin opponents at home.

Biden warned that until Russia changed course on Ukraine, the international community would continue to "impose costs" on Russia -- a reference to the U.S. and EU sanctions targeting the economy and allies of Putin.

Putin acknowledged that the sanctions were hurting Russia but suggested they would they not affect his decisions and called for stepped up efforts to guard against their potential consequences.

"Those attempts that are being made, including the so-called sanctions, in the end, I think, will not bring anyone joy," Putin said.

"In relation to a country like ours, they definitely cannot be effective, although they are incurring certain losses and damage, and we should understand this and, understanding it, must increase our level of sovereignty, including in the economic sphere," Putin said.

The sanctions pressure has coincided with a sharp decline in world prices for oil, a key Russian export.

Russia's economy is expected to shrink this year for the first time since 2009, and the ruble has lost about half its value against the U.S. dollar in a year.

With reporting by Interfax and TASS
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