MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama’s re-election and said he hoped it would have a positive impact on relations with the United States.
Despite Obama’s call for a “reset” in ties with Russia, relations have been strained by differences over issues ranging from missile defense to human rights and the conflict in Syria. But Moscow had been wary of Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign remark that Russia was the United States’ top geopolitical foe.
“Overall the Kremlin welcomes the news of Barack Obama’s victory in the elections,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Interfax news agency.
“We express hope that the positive beginnings in bilateral relations and in international cooperation between Russian and the United States, in the interest of international security, will develop and improve.”
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who was Russia’s president for much of Obama’s current term, made clear he was glad that he had defeated Romney.
“For us, he (Obama) is an understandable and predictable partner. That is the most important thing in politics,” Medvedev was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies during a visit to Vietnam.
“I am happy that the president of a very big, very influential state is not a man who considers Russia to be its enemy number one. That is funny. It’s some kind of paranoia.”
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was open to cooperating with Obama’s new administration but underlined that it expects its former Cold War enemy to deal with it as an equal partner.
“We will continue to work with this administration,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by RIA news agency in an interview with the Moskovskiye Novosti newspaper. “We are ready, on the basis of mutual equality, mutual profit and mutual respect ... to go as far as the U.S. administration is willing to go.”
Reporting By Alissa de Carbonnel, Editing by Timothy Heritage