July 3, 2009 / 10:12 AM / 11 years ago

Obama not fully informed on Russia: Putin spokesman

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will use next week’s Moscow talks to relieve President Barack Obama of mistaken impressions he remains mired in Cold War thinking, Putin’s spokesman said on Firday.

The spokesman was reacting to comments Obama made in a pre-trip interview. The U.S. leader told the Associated Press that Putin needed to “understand that the Cold War approach to U.S.-Russian relationship is outdated” and that Putin had “one foot in the old ways of doing business.”

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in mildly-expressed comments, said: “I see that he does not possess full information. After visiting Moscow, President Obama will know the realities better.

“Judging by these statements it is very good that the meeting with Prime Minister Putin is on President Obama’s agenda. I am sure that after the meeting with Putin, President Obama will change his point of view,” Peskov added.

He dismissed Obama’s suggestion that Putin — who once described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geo-political catastrophe of the century” — needed to understand the Cold War was over.

“Putin understood that a long time ago,” Peskov said.

Putin developed a good personal rapport with Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush, which endured despite Russia-U.S. relations hitting their post-Cold War lows. He will meet Obama for the first time for 1 1/2 hours on Tuesday.

“Prime Minister Putin is looking forward to the meeting and plans to make the most out of it despite it being a very short meeting,” Peskov said, adding that Putin will seek to understand Obama’s world view.

Most Russia-watchers believe Putin has kept a firm grip on the levers of power since handing over the Kremlin to his hand-picked successor President Dmitry Medvedev last year. In keeping with protocol, Obama will spend more time with Medvedev.

Peskov complained that the United States had kept in place trade restrictions, some of them dating back to the Cold War years, such as the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, which tied trade relations with the Soviet Union to the rights of religious minorities to emigrate.

“If that is not a Cold War approach, what is it then?” Peskov said.

Reporting by Gleb Bryanski; editing by Ralph Boulton

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