Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Friday of endangering global security by imposing a "unilateral diktat" on the rest of the world and shifted blame for the Ukraine crisis onto the West. In a 40-minute diatribe against the West that was reminiscent of the Cold War and underlined the depth of the rift between Moscow and the West, Putin also denied trying to rebuild the Soviet empire at the expense of Russia's neighbors. "We did not start this," Putin told an informal group of experts on Russia that includes many Western specialists critical of him, warning that Washington was trying to "remake the whole world" based on its own interests.
"Statements that Russia is trying to reinstate some sort of empire, that it is encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbors, are groundless," the former KGB spy declared in a speech delivered standing at a podium, without a smile, in a ski resort in mountains above the Black Sea city of Sochi.
Listing a series of conflicts in which he faulted U.S. actions, including Libya, Syria and Iraq, Putin asked whether Washington's policies had strengthened peace and democracy. "No," he declared. "The unilateral diktat and the imposing of schemes (on others) have exactly the opposite effect."
Putin, 62, has stepped up anti-Western rhetoric since returning to the Kremlin as president in 2012, helping push up his popularity ratings since the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March.
Dismissing U.S. and European Union sanctions imposed on Moscow, he said: "Russia will not be posturing, get offended, ask someone for anything. Russia is self-sufficient."