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At UN, Russia criticizes U.S.-led interventions

Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of

Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russia, speaks during the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly September 27, 2014 in New York. Credit: Getty Images / Timothy A. Clary

UNITED NATIONS -- In an apparent rebuke to President Barack Obama's speech to the General Assembly, Russia's foreign minister Saturday chided the United States and its allies as undermining international order by trying to dictate what's best for other nations.

"The U.S.-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in individual countries acts from a directly opposite position in the international arena, rejecting democratic principles of sovereign equality of states as enshrined in the UN Charter and trying to decide for everyone what is good and what is evil," Sergey Lavrov said.

Obama had singled out Russia in his speech on Wednesday as a bully for its interventions in Ukraine this year, saying, "We will impose a cost on Russia for aggression."

As the crisis unfolded, Russia annexed Crimea, the peninsula in Ukraine's east, after residents there voted for it in a referendum that many international observers called "illegal."

Washington has supported the pro-Western government formed in Kiev after an elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country in February as protests against his pro-Russian posture led to violent clashes. Lavrov called the installation of a new government in Kiev a "coup" while Obama said Wednesday that Yanukovych was a "corrupt president" driven out amid popular protest for reform.

Since then, pro-Russian separatists elsewhere in eastern Ukraine have battled Ukrainian government forces in clashes that killed more than 3,000 people until a tenuous cease-fire agreement early this month.

Russia has denied Western charges of backing the rebels with troops and equipment, and Lavrov Saturday portrayed the United States and its allies as conducting constant military interventions over the past two decades.

"The sustainability of the international system has been severely shaken by NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, intervention in Iraq, attack against Libya and the failure of operation in Afghanistan," Lavrov said. "Today Ukraine has fallen victim to such an arrogant policy."

Russia, which along with China has blocked several UN Security Council resolutions that carried provisions that authorized the removal by force of Syria's president, Bashar Assad, said Syria could play a role in fighting terrorism. Obama has ruled out cooperation with Assad's government even as the United States has launched airstrikes against extremist groups among Syria's rebels.

China and Russia pledged Saturday they would participate in the global fight against terrorism and offered advice on how to resolve problems such as the spread of Ebola and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi did not point fingers or criticize the actions of any nation, instead advocating a general adherence to the rule of law."We should uphold justice," Wang said. "It is imperative to promote greater democracy and rule of law in international relations, use fair and just rules to tell right from wrong and settle disputes, and pursue peace and development within the framework of international law."

He made four recommendations to achieve peace: seeking political solutions instead of military ones, accommodating the interests of all parties, promoting national reconciliation and upholding multilateralism.

"Let us jointly defend the UN Charter and the outcomes of the Second World War so that the vision for a world free of war and with lasting peace will strike deep roots in our hearts and pass from one generation to another," Wang said.

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