The FINANCIAL — Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took a hard line with the U.S. Monday, attacking it of trying to ensure its own security at the expense of others, and warning against interference in Syria and Iran.
The aggressive tone struck in an article published ahead of March 4 presidential elections–which Putin is widely expected to win–comes as Russian state television said security forces had arrested two men with a plot to assassinate the prime minister.
According to Borsa Italiana – London Stock Exchange Group, in his seventh of a series of election articles, Putin makes no mention of the "reset" in Russia-U.S. relations touted by Washington at the beginning of President Barack Obama's term.
"The United States is obsessed with trying to establish absolute invulnerability for itself," Putin said, adding that such an attitude would lead to "absolute vulnerability" for all other countries.
His comments mark a return to a more confrontational foreign policy that Putin waged during his first two terms as president from 2000 to 2008.
He warned the West against using force in Syria, saying the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shouldn't launch military action in any conflict where it lacks the support of the United Nations Security Council. Russia and China recently blocked a U.N. resolution condemning a crackdown on the opposition by forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
"Nobody has the right to take for himself the prerogatives and authorities of the United Nations, especially when it comes to using force against sovereign states," Putin said.
He suggested the West's support for the Arab Spring uprisings may have been driven by commercial interests rather than human rights issues, and noted that Russia has lost its position on Arab markets that it had developed through decades.
"One can get the idea that these tragic events were to a certain extent stimulated not by concern for human rights but by someone's market interests," Putin wrote.
Putin also warned against attacking Iran over its nuclear program, a move he said would be "truly catastrophic."
"It is impossible to imagine the consequences" of such a step, Putin said.
Also Monday, state television reported that Russian security forces had arrested two men with a plot to assassinate Putin on orders of Chechen warlord Doku Umarov. The attempt on Putin's life was planned to take place in Moscow after presidential elections Sunday, Channel One reported.
During his first term as president, Putin waged a brutal campaign against Muslim insurgents in Chechnya in what he claimed was part of a global war on terrorism.