Russian president Vladimir Putin has delivered one of his most ferocious anti-West speeches, accusing the US of provoking the Ukraine conflict and the rise of Islamist terrorism as it seeks to establish world hegemony.
At an international meeting of Russia experts in Sochi on Friday, Putin accused the US of supporting groups ranging from fascists to Islamic terrorists in order to further its interests.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, he said the US had acted like a "nouveau riche who had suddenly received a lot of wealth – in this case, global leadership".
"Unilateral dictatorship and obtrusion of the patterns leads to opposite result. Instead of conflicts settlement – their escalation. Instead of sovereign, stable states – growing chaos. Instead of democracy – support for very dubious people, such as neo-Nazis and Islamic extremists," he said.
"Why do they support such people," he asked the annual gathering of the Valdai Club. "They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals, but then burn their fingers and recoil."
In the three-hour speech and subsequent question and answer session, he said that while not a direct threat to Russia, the US had fomented chaos in countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria, and was now battling to cope with the results of its own policies.
"The exceptionalism of the United States, the way they implement their leadership, is it really a benefit? And their worldwide intervention brings peace and stability, progress and peak of democracy? Maybe we should relax and enjoy this splendour? No!"
"They are throwing their might to remove the risks they have created themselves, and they are paying an increasing price," Putin told political experts at the Black Sea resort.
"I think that the policies of the ruling elite are erroneous. I am convinced that they go against our interests, undermine trust in the United States," he said.
"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."
He accused the US of provoking the conflict in Ukraine, and defended Russia's interests in the region.
"The bear is the master of the taiga. It is not going to move to another climate," the Russian leader vowed. "It's not going to give up its taiga to anyone."