Putin: Russia is a force for moral good but no superpower

President Vladimir Putin, in athinly veiled criticism of the United States, portrayed Russiaon Thursday as a force for peace and morality that had no desireto be a global superpower.

"We do not aspire to be called some kind of superpower,understanding that as a claim to world or regional hegemony,"Putin said in an annual address to parliamentarians and seniornational officials.

"We do not infringe on anyone's interests, we do not forceour patronage on anyone, or try to teach anyone how to live," hesaid, using phrases that echo his previous criticisms of theUnited States.

Russia, he said, would strive to be a leader which defendedinternational law and respected national sovereignty and theindependence of nations.

"This is absolutely understandable for a state like Russia,with its great history and culture," he said.