Photo:RIA Novosti / Michail Klimentyev
Russia does not seek the role of a regional or global hegemony, but will defend its core values and interests, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. All attempts to impose on other nations have failed, he added.
The Russian leader gave an assurance that Russia wants to respect the sovereignty and stability of other countries, as he was addressing the Federal Assembly, the collective of the two houses of the Russian parliament.
“We will seek leadership by defending international law, advocating respect for national sovereignty, independence and the uniqueness of peoples,” Putin said.
“We have always been proud of our country, but we do not aspire to the title of superpower, which is understood to be pretense for global or regional hegemony. We do not impinge on anyone’s interests, do not impose our patronage, do not attempt to lecture anyone on how they should live,” he added.
Putin did not directly mention the United States in his speech, but the reference to Washington’s military actions in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya was hard to overlook.
Those and less direct interventions, like the support of the rebel forces in Syria, have led to regress for the respective nations, Putin stated.
On the other hand Russia’s approach, which rejects the use of force and promotes political dialogue and compromise, have been fruitful in both Syria and Iran, the Russian president said.
The audience listen to Russia's President Vladimir Putin as he gives his annual state of the nation address at the Kremlin in Moscow, December 12, 2013. (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)
“In Syria the world community had to make a joint and fateful decision. It was either the continuation of the degradation of the world order, the rule of the right of might, the right of the fist, the multiplication of chaos. Or to collectively take responsible decisions,” Putin explained, praising the world, Russia included, for taking the second path.
It was Russia’s involvement that to a large degree helped to prevent military intervention in Syria and paved the way for the deal involving the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
If this hadn’t happened, the Syrian conflict might have escalated and impacted countries far away from the Middle East, Putin said.
“We acted in a firm, thoughtful and measured manner. At no time did we endanger either our own interests and security or global stability. I believe that this is the way a mature and responsible nation should act,” he stated.
The Syrian precedent was reinforced by the recent breakthrough in the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program.
“We need to continue a patient search for a broader solution, which would ensure the inalienable right of Iran to develop its peaceful nuclear energy industry and the security of all countries in the region, including Israel,” Putin said.
Iran and the P5+1 group have signed an interim agreement, which lifts some of sanctions issued against Iran over its controversial nuclear program in exchange for a temporary slowdown of Tehran’s nuclear development.
The deal is hoped to lead to a permanent accord, which would settle the decades-long conflict.