World

Putin blasts U.S. for 'very dangerous' foreign policies

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of making the world more dangerous by trying to impose its will through an "almost uncontained, hyper use of force."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of making the world a more dangerous place by trying to impose its will through an "almost uncontained, hyper use of force."

U.S. foreign policies are prompting countries around the world to develop nuclear arms, Putin told a security conference in Munich on Saturday in whatmany observers said were the strongestverbal attack that Putin has made on Washington.

Putin, speaking through a translator, saidcountries were "witnessing the almost uncontained, hyper use of force in international relations."

"One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is very dangerous. Nobody feels secure anymore because nobody can hide behind international law," Putin told the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy.

"It is a world of one master, one sovereign.… It has nothing to do with democracy," he told the gathering of senior security officials from around the world.

"This is nourishing the wish of countries to get nuclear weapons."

Putindid not directlyrefer to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which was launched without United Nations' sanction,nor the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban government in late 2001. However, Putin said: "Unilateral, illegitimate actions have not solved a single problem: they have become a hotbed of further conflicts.

He alsocriticized a U.S. plan to to deploy a missile defence system in eastern Europe and its support of a United Nations plan that would grant autonomy to the Serbian province of Kosovo.

White House 'surprised and disappointed'

A White House spokesman said in response that the U.S. government was "surprised and disappointed" by Putin's remarks.

"His accusations are wrong," said Gordon Johndroe, the national security spokesman for U.S. President George W. Bush.

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who was attending the conference, said the Russian leader had been "very candid."

Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona who was also attending the conference, said Putin's comments were "the most aggressive speech from a Russian leader since the end of the Cold War."

Putin slams NATO expansion plans

During his speech at the security conference, Putin alsoexpressed concern about plans by NATO to expand.

"The process of NATO expansion has nothing to do with modernization of the alliance or with ensuring security in Europe," Putin said. "On the contrary, it is a serious factor provoking reduction of mutual trust."

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said he was disappointed by Putin's remarks.

"I see a disconnection between NATO's partnership with Russia as it has developed and Putin's speech," he said.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, told Reuters news agency that Putin was not trying to upset Washington in his speech.

"This is not about confrontation. It's an invitation to think," he said.

With files from the Associated Press