SEOUL (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday a comment by U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, branding Russia the “number one geopolitical foe”, smacked of Hollywood.
Romney was speaking on CNN in response to a conversation in Seoul on missile defense between Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama.
“Regarding ideological clichés, every time this or that side uses phrases like ‘enemy number one’, this always alarms me, this smells of Hollywood and certain times (of the past),” Medvedev said at the end of a nuclear security summit in the South Korean capital.
”I would recommend all U.S. presidential candidates ... do two things. First, when phrasing their position one needs to use one’s head, one’s good reason, which would not do harm to a presidential candidate.
“Also, (one needs to) look at his watch: we are in 2012 and not the mid-1970s.”
Obama made clear on Tuesday that it is highly unlikely the United States and Russia will bridge their differences over U.S. plans for a European missile shield before the U.S. presidential election, staunchly defending remarks caught on camera the day before with Medvedev.
Obama was overheard assuring Medvedev, who will hand over the presidency to newly elected Vladimir Putin in May, that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with arms-control issues after the November 6 presidential ballot, drawing sharp criticism back home from his Republican foes.
Romney called Obama’s comments “alarming and troubling”.
Medvedev and Obama signed a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty in 2010, part of a “reset” in relations, but the former Cold War foes are at odds over the U.S. plans for a European anti-missile shield.
Russia says the United States is pushing ahead with its plans despite promises of cooperation. Moscow is pressing for a legally binding guarantee that the system would not be aimed to undermine Russia’s offensive nuclear arsenal.
That demand is a non-starter because of opposition in the United States, particularly among Republicans in Congress, to any restrictions on U.S. missile defenses.
In Moscow, Russia’s Foreign Ministry dismissed Romney’s remark as campaign rhetoric.
“It’s perfectly clear that these statements are dictated by ... the political struggle that is going on now in connection with the upcoming elections in the United States,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
A senior lawmaker from Putin’s ruling party said Romney’s remark went “far deeper” than political posturing, warning a Republican win would likely revive a “line of confrontation with Russia” rooted in the administration of George W. Bush.
“It’s clear that this is a new edition of the old doctrine of American hegemony, and Romney is not alone in this approach,” said Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the international affairs committee in the State Duma, the lower parliament house.
“There is a whole group of senators who specialize in promoting the idea of U.S. domination of world affairs and ... in anti-Russian themes,” he told a news conference.
“The Republicans are going with the ideology of George Bush and John McCain, in essence, and on this basis they want to return to power. And that’s the problem.”
Additional reporting by Steve Gutterman in Moscow; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Ed Lane and Alessandra Rizzo