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Putin warns of outside forces that wish to split Russia and take over its natural resources


MOSCOW: Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said Sun­day that there are peo­ple in the world who wish to split up Rus­sia and take over its vast nat­ur­al resources, and oth­ers who would like to “rule over all mankind,” a veiled ref­er­ence to the Unit­ed States.

Speak­ing in front of Moscow’s icon­ic St. Basil’s Cathe­dral on Red Square, Putin told a group of mil­i­tary cadets and youth group mem­bers that while “an over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of peo­ple in the world” are friend­ly toward Rus­sia, there are some who “keep say­ing to this day that our nation should be split.”

“Some believe that we are too lucky to pos­sess so much nat­ur­al wealth, which they say must be divid­ed,” Putin said, speak­ing on Nation­al Uni­ty Day. “These peo­ple have lost their mind,” he added with a smile.

Many Rus­sians fear that their coun­try’s rapid­ly declin­ing pop­u­la­tion and enor­mous nat­ur­al wealth could one day leave it vul­ner­a­ble to out­side preda­tors.

But the theme of inva­sion was cen­tral to Sun­day’s hol­i­day, which Putin cre­at­ed by decree in 2005 to com­mem­o­rate the defense of Rus­sia from a Pol­ish-Lithuan­ian incur­sion in the begin­ning of the 17th cen­tu­ry.

Putin on Sun­day referred to the bat­tle as a turn­ing point in Rus­si­a’s his­to­ry that unit­ed the nation.

Not miss­ing a chance to take a shot at the Unit­ed States, Putin said there are peo­ple who “would like to build a unipo­lar world and rule over all of mankind.” He count­ed them as among the minor­i­ty in the world who do not main­tain a “friend­ly atti­tude” toward Rus­sia.

He said any attempt to estab­lish a unipo­lar world was doomed to fail.

“Noth­ing of this kind has ever occurred in our plan­et’s his­to­ry, and I don’t think it will ever hap­pen,” the pres­i­dent said.

Putin has been high­ly crit­i­cal of the Unit­ed States for the inva­sion of Iraq and oppos­es its plans to build a lim­it­ed mis­sile shield in cen­tral Europe.

Con­cern about out­side forces want­i­ng the divi­sion of Rus­sia arose last month dur­ing Putin’s three-hour nation­al­ly tele­vised call-in show.

A Siber­ian work­er asked Putin about com­ments he said were made years ago by for­mer U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Madeleine Albright sug­gest­ing that Siberia had too many nat­ur­al resources for one coun­try.

“I know that some politi­cians play with such ideas in their heads,” Putin replied, adding that such talk was “polit­i­cal erot­i­ca.”

Putin, whose two-term pres­i­den­cy ends next year, said Rus­sia will con­tin­ue play­ing an active role in for­eign pol­i­cy and there are many peo­ple who look to Rus­sia as a defend­er of small nations’ rights and inter­ests.

Intend­ed to invoke patri­o­tism, Nation­al Unit­ed Day has been hijacked by extreme nation­al­ist groups that call for rid­ding Rus­sia of for­eign­ers and return­ing the pre-com­mu­nist monar­chy.


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