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10 May 2006 13:00
The United States is a “fortress” because of its high defence spending and Russia should follow suit in order to ensure a solid defence of its own, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
The US defence budget, in absolute terms, “is almost 25 times that of Russia’s. Their home is their castle—and well done, well done,” Putin said.
“It means we should build our own house strongly and reliably.”
Putin went on to swipe at US foreign policy and recent criticism by Washington of Russia’s record on democracy and human rights.
Washington’s own commitment to human rights was secondary to US national interests, Putin suggested.
“We see what’s happening in the world.
“Where does the whole pathos about the need to struggle for democracy and human rights disappear to, when the talk is about ensuring one’s own interests?” Putin demanded.
“Then it seems everything is possible. There are no limits at all.”
The comments came after US Vice-President Dick Cheney, in a speech in Lithuania on Thursday, warned Russia not to cut back on democratic reform, saying that rights in Russia were being “improperly restricted”. - Sapa-AFP
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