Putin accuses US of trying to dictate its will, calls for a balance of interests



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MOSCOW — The United States is destabilizing the global order by trying to impose its will on other nations, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Friday, warning that the world will face new wars if Washington fails to respect the interests of other countries.

In a speech to political experts in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi, Putin pointed to wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria as examples of botched U.S. policies that have led to chaos.

With visible emotion, he said Washington and its allies have been "fighting against the results of its own policy" in those countries.

"They are throwing their might to remove the risks they have created themselves, and they are paying an increasing price," Putin said.

Turning to Ukraine, Putin accused the West of ignoring Russia's legitimate interests in its neighbor and supporting 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, the Ukrainian capital, drove President Viktor Yanukovych out of office.

The crisis in Ukraine has brought relations between Russia and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War. The U.S. and the 28-nation European Union have imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions against Moscow over its annexation of Crimea in March and its support for pro-Russian insurgents fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine.

Putin denied allegations that Russia wants to split Ukraine. He spoke in support of a cease-fire for eastern Ukraine that was signed last month and warned the Ukrainian government against trying to crush the pro-Russian rebellion by force.

"If, God forbid, anyone falls into the temptation to use force to settle the problem in the southeast, it will drive the situation into complete deadlock," Putin said, adding that the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces should create conditions for rebuilding ties between the central authorities and the rebel regions.

Putin has accused the U.S. of trying to cast Russia as a danger to the rest of the world and forcing its allies to impose sanctions against Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis. Saying the sanctions aimed to push Russia into isolation, he insisted they will not succeed.

"Such a country as Russia will certainly not bend under pressure," he said.

The sanctions have cut the access of Russian banks and several leading state companies to foreign capital markets, encouraging investors to flee the Russian market and contributing to a sharp plunge in the national currency, the ruble.

The Russian leader warned that the U.S. approach to global affairs has made the world a more dangerous place.

"The probability of a series of acute conflicts with indirect and even direct involvement of major powers has sharply increased," he said. "Ukraine is an example of such conflicts that influence a global balance of forces, and, I think, not the last one."

Putin also insisted the interests of Russia and other nations need to be taken into account to stabilize the global situation.

"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."

Evoking the archetypal image of Russian bear, Putin rejected allegations that Russia wants to rebuild the Soviet empire, but warned his nation would firmly stand its ground to defend its vital interests.

"The bear is the master of the taiga, it's not going to move to other climate zones," he said. "But it's not going to give up its taiga to anyone."

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