MOSCOW (Reuters) - The head of Russia's Security Council said in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday that the United States wanted a weakened Russia so as to gain access to its vast mineral resources.
The attack on the United States by Nikolai Patrushev came against a background of anti-Western rhetoric by Moscow following imposition of sanctions by Washington and the European Union over Moscow's role in Ukraine's crisis.
In an interview with BBC Panorama aired on Monday night, Adam Szubin, acting U.S. Treasury secretary for terrorism and financial crimes, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of amassing secret wealth by corrupt practices over "many, many years".
"The United States' leadership has set a goal of global dominance," Patrushev, a former head of Russia's FSB state security service and a long-standing ally of Putin, told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper in an interview on its website.
"They don't need a strong Russia. On the contrary, they need to weaken our country as much as possible. To achieve this goal, the Russian Federation's disintegration is not ruled out as well," Patrushev said.
"This will open access to the richest resources for the United States, which believes that Russia possesses them undeservingly."
Russia is the world's sixth-largest holder of crude oil resources and its natural gas reserves are the second biggest, marginally lower than those of Iran, according to BP data, one of the most respected in the industry.
Patrushev repeated Moscow's concern that NATO's expansion represents a threat to Russia's national security.
Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Richard Balmforth