© Sputnik/ Sergey Guneev
"Russia does not claim some sort of hegemony, it does not claim some kind of ephemeral superpower status," Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

According to the president, Moscow has started to protect its interests in a determined way, but is not acting aggressively.

"We have begun to more persistently and consistently defend our interests," he stated. "We want relations based on equality with all members of the international community."

Moscow's relations with the US, the EU and NATO deteriorated since 2014 amid the Ukrainian crisis and Russia's reunification with Crimea. The West accused Russia of participating in the armed conflict in Ukraine and began boosting its military presence in Europe.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations, expressing concern over NATO's expansion and increased military presence in Eastern Europe near Russia's western borders.