Russia condemns US for wanting to "dominate the world" after State of the Union

Russia has hit back at Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, saying that it showed the US believes it is “number one” and seeks world domination.

The US president said his country was upholding “the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small” by opposing what he called Russian aggression and supporting democracy in Ukraine.

“The Americans have taken the course of confrontation and do not assess their own steps critically at all,” the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, told a news conference on Wednesday.

“Yesterday’s speech by President Obama shows that at the centre of the [US’s] philosophy is only one thing: ‘We are number one and everyone else has to recognise that’ … It shows that the United States wants all the same to dominate the world and not merely be first among equals.“

This phase would pass, Lavrov said, but added that it would take time for US thinking on foreign policy to become less aggressive. “I would prefer all countries to adopt the philosophy of cooperation, not diktat,” he said.

Relations between Russia and the US have sunk to their lowest level since the end of the cold war, mainly because of Moscow’s confrontation with the west over the crisis in Ukraine, during which western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia.

Lavrov said ties between Moscow and Washington had deteriorated in 2014 and called for cooperation, including on Iran and Syria.

Washington and the west believe Moscow is the driving force behind a rebellion by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine and provides them with arms and troops. Russia denies this.

Lavrov drew a parallel between the Maidan protests in Kiev that culminated in the overthrow last year of Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukoych as president and the violence in the US town of Ferguson over a court decision that fuelled racial tensions.

He quoted Obama as saying that destroying property while rioting was criminal and should be prosecuted. “No one in the west said anything similar about what was happening on the Maidan. No one. And buildings and people were set ablaze,” he said, accusing the west of reverting to double standards.

Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, told the World Economic Forum on Wednesday that Russia had 9,000 troops on Ukrainian soil and he called on Moscow to withdraw them.

In a speech to the forum in Davos, Switzerland, he said the Russian troops were backed by a range of heavy weapons including tanks and artillery systems.

“If this is not aggression, what is aggression?” Poroshenko asked. He called on Moscow to comply with a peace plan and cooperate in closing the long joint border with Ukraine and withdrawing Russian forces.

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