UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia used its annual appearance at the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday to accuse the United States and its Western allies of bossing the world around, complaining they were attempting to dictate to everyone “what is good and evil.”
The speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the 193-nation assembly was the latest example of the deteriorating relations between Moscow and Western powers, which have imposed sanctions on Russia over the conflict in neighboring Ukraine.
“The U.S.-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries ... (is) rejecting the democratic principle of sovereign equality of states enshrined in the U.N. Charter and trying to decide for everyone what is good or evil,” he said.
“Washington has openly declared its right to unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests,” Lavrov added. “Military interference has become a norm - even despite the dismal outcome of all power operations that the U.S. has carried out over the recent years.”
Lavrov cited the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo war, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya that led to the toppling and death of longtime Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi as examples of U.S. failures.
Moscow has also criticized the United States over airstrikes against Islamic State, an Islamist militant group often referred that has taken over large areas of Syria and Iraq and is blamed for brutal slayings of civilians.
Russia on Friday questioned the legality of U.S. and Arab airstrikes in Syria to target Islamic State because the action was taken without the formal approval and cooperation of Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
He reiterated Moscow’s view that the United States and European Union “supported the coup d‘etat in Ukraine” and that they were therefore responsible for the current conflict there.
A war involving pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine has killed more than 3,000 people. Kiev and Western governments say Russia has been arming, training and encouraging the militants, and had sent its own troops to Ukraine to tip the balance against Kiev.
Russia, which opposes the pro-Western course of leadership in the ex-Soviet republic, has denied that its troops have participated in the war or provided arms to rebels.
Separately, Lavrov demanded information about the state of Libya’s chemical weapons arsenals after the Libyan government asked the global chemical weapons watchdog to draw up plans to ship a stockpile of 850 metric tons of chemicals overseas because of deteriorating security.
“We understand that our NATO colleagues after they bombed out this country in violation of (U.N. Security Council) resolution would not like to stir up the mayhem they created,” Lavrov said. “However, the problem of uncontrolled Libyan chemical arsenals is too serious to turn a blind eye.”
Western countries reject Russia’s allegations they violated the 2011 U.N. resolution.
Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Peter Cooney