Russia hits back at Obama over State of Union speech

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference in Moscow, January 21, 2015. Lavrov urged Washington on Wednesday to move from "diktat" to cooperation after a speech by President Barack Obama which he said showed the United States believes it is "number one". REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT)

By Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia hit back on Wednesday at U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, saying it showed the United States believes it is "number one" and seeks world domination. Obama 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, and that Russia was isolated. "The Americans have taken the course of confrontation and do not assess their own steps critically at all," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference. "Yesterday's speech by President Obama shows that at the center of the (U.S.) philosophy is only one thing: 'We are number one and everyone else has to recognize 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 U.S. thinking on its 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 United States 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 the West has imposed sanctions on Russia. Lavrov said ties between Moscow and Washington had "seriously deteriorated" in 2014 and called for "constructive cooperation", including on Iran and Syria. Washington and the West say 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 Yanukovich as president, and violence in the U.S. town of Ferguson over a court decision that fueled racial tensions. He quoted Obama as saying that destroying property in 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. (Additional reporting by Lidia Kelly and Thomas Grove, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Timothy Heritage)