MOSCOW, Russia – Russia on Wednesday, January 21, responded disparagingly to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, claiming it showed that the United States wanted to dominate world affairs.
“Americans have set a course for confrontation,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after the US president said sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine had left the Russian economy in tatters.
“Obama’s address yesterday shows that there’s just one thing at the heart of (their) philosophy: ‘We are number one’ and the rest should acknowledge that.”
“This is a bit out of date and does not correspond to modern realities,” Russia’s top diplomat added in televised remarks.
“It shows that the United States wants to dominate the world,” he said, adding that “being first among equals” was not enough for Washington.
In his keynote State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Obama said “big nations can’t bully small”, a reference to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Referring to US policy towards the Kremlin over Ukraine, Obama said Moscow had been left isolated and its economy “in tatters.”
Ties between Moscow and Washington fell to unprecedented post-Soviet lows after Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in March.
The United States slapped sanctions on Russia over the annexation of the peninsula and Moscow’s support for Russian-speaking insurgents in eastern Ukraine where more than 4,800 people have lost their lives in the past months.
‘Aggressive foreign policy’
Lavrov struck a condescending note, saying attempts to isolate Russia would fail and Washington’s “aggressive foreign policy” would one day become a thing of the past.
“I think it will pass,” he said.
The Kremlin spokesman for his part said in an interview published on Wednesday that Western countries were trying to use the Ukraine conflict to topple Putin and wreck Russia’s economy.
“In the West they are trying to kick out Putin, to isolate him in international politics, to throttle Russia economically due to their interests, to bring down Putin,” Dmitry Peskov told Argumenty i Fakty weekly.
He insisted that Russia’s economic situation was under control despite “illegal sanctions”, which along with low oil prices have seen the ruble lose more than half its value against the dollar.
‘Understanding of IS threat growing’
But at the same time Lavrov appeared to commend Obama for what he called Washington’s growing realization that ISIS militants presented the most serious threat in Syria.
“The task of fighting these terrorists has been called the most important one,” Lavrov said, referring to the US president’s address.
“It’s good that this understanding is growing. What’s most important is to translate this into practice soon.”
Obama asked US lawmakers to give him updated war powers to use American military might to go after the Islamic State (IS) group.
Moscow has long argued that radical militants – and not the regime of its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – present the most danger to regional security.
In contrast, Washington has argued that Assad should step down.
The New York Times said this week that Washington now appeared to be supporting the idea of “more gradual change,” a shift now focusing more on the IS instead of the Assad government.
Lavrov said the article was noteworthy and suggested that it be translated into Russian.
Moscow hopes to relaunch peace talks for Syria that would include meetings between delegates of the regime and the opposition.
Russia has said it wants to host delegates from the Syrian opposition in late January to negotiate a way out of the nearly four-year civil war which claimed an estimated 200,000 lives. – Rappler.com
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