Putin Won’t Admit Relations Between Russia and the U.S. Are Cooling

September 6, 2013

Vladimir Putin would like Barack Obama to come Russia so they could “talk and discuss the outstanding issues”, but he sees “no disaster”, if that meeting doesn’t happen. This is what the Russian president said in an interview to the “First Channel” and the Associated Press news agency. He explained that the contacts between the two countries continue at various levels and do not stop. Putin set aside any specific definitions of the state of relations with the United States, such as “reset” or “cooling”. He considers it “current work,” difficult and strenuous. “That’s true, it is covered with roses and flowers. It’s hard work and sometimes it is difficult, and there’s nothing unusual about it,” he said. “We understand that due to Russia’s position on some issues there is some irritation within the U.S. administration. But there is nothing we can do about it,” he said and offered to work together “to try to find solutions.” Putin hopes that he would still be able to talk to the U.S. president on the sidelines of the summit G20, although earlier the White House had decided to cancel the bilateral meeting.

Putin has called Obama a very interesting interlocutor and a man who means business and who is interesting to work with. According to him, all their previous meetings were “very meaningful.” In August, the U.S. president also said that his talks with Putin were mostly very productive, although sometimes during the talks the Russian leader “looks like the bored kid in the back of the classroom.” “Sometimes I’m curious to read about body language, about how we behave when we are bored, or act somewhat differently. Who can say, other than ourselves, what we have in mind and in heart?” said Putin. “”There are some gestures, of course, that you can only interpret one way, but no one has ever seen those kinds of gestures directed by Obama at me or by me at Obama, and I hope that never happens. Everything else is fantasy,” he said.

Among the topics to be discussed with U.S. President Putin mentioned disarmament, the problems of the global economy, the problems related to North Korea and Iran, and the fight against terrorism. The consequences of the Cold War in the bilateral relationship, in his view, relate to the “average level of cooperation in almost all environments and areas” and are associated with the attitude of the security services, who have worked for decades in the United States against the Soviet Union and in the Soviet Union against the United States. The president would like to believe that “it will not be the case at the highest political level”. The current disagreements, in his opinion, stem from different perceptions of common problems and different approaches to achieve the common goals.

Putin noted that “some members of the U.S. Embassy” consider it normal to behave in such a way that could be compared to a situation whereby the Russian diplomats would try to “work extensively with representatives of the Occupy Wall Street movement.” According to the president, the role of the ambassador is to establish relations between the countries and to seek compromises, not to try to engage the opposition. “But we decided not to make a big deal out of it, we just decided, that okay, if this is their way to behave, that’s fine. But it did not have any negative consequences for our relations. I think such practices are wrong and harmful, but this is probably the style of some leaders of relevant departments,” Putin said. On the contrary, the Russian authorities welcome the practices of U.S. diplomacy to “show support for civil society,” he added, commenting on Obama’s plans to meet with Russian human rights and LGBT activists.