Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he sees no ideological grounds for a war with the US — cold or hot — despite strained relations with Washington and the NATO alliance.
Russia’s relations with the US were already at a post-Cold War low when they were further damaged by Russia’s war with US ally Georgia in August. Russia has complained vehemently about what it says is a growing US military presence near its borders.
But Medvedev said on Wednesday that the Cold War was based on ideological differences between the Soviet Union and the NATO countries.
“We do not have such ideological differences around which a new cold or any other kind of war could start,” Medvedev said after talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero outside St Petersburg.
Medvedev said he would not “dramatize” troubled ties between Russia and NATO and said NATO needs Russia more than Russia needs NATO.
He also said the outcome of the US presidential election should not affect relations between Washington and Moscow.
Regardless of who wins the US presidency, “Job No. 1 is to deal with the situation in the economy — that’s what must be done,” he said.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also continued Russia’s repeated verbal jabs at the US over the global financial crisis.
“Everything that is happening today in the sphere of economics and finance began, as is known, in the US,” Putin told a Cabinet meeting, according to an official transcript of the meeting.
“This whole crisis, which has hit many countries and, most sadly, the inability to make adequate decisions — this is [the result] not of the irresponsibility of specific individuals but the irresponsibility of a system — a system that pretended to leadership,” he said, clearly referring to the US.
“But we see that it is not only unable to provide leadership but not even capable of making adequate, absolutely necessary decisions to overcome crisis phenomena,” he said.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto, asked to respond to Putin’s remarks, said: “We have dealt with this problem, a very complicated and far-reaching problem, in as aggressive a way possible. And I don’t think there’s any question of that, and I’ll just leave it at that.”
The top US diplomat for Latin America, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, said on Wednesday that, despite Russia’s diplomatic and military overtures in the region, the US has “no intention of reviving Cold War images or Cold War rhetoric.”
“This is a conflict that the region has thankfully left behind,” he said in a telephone interview.
Asked how concerned Washington is about Russia’s deepening ties with Venezuela and its dispatching of a naval squadron there on a visit, he said: “There is no doubt about who holds the preponderance of military power in the Caribbean, so we certainly don’t see this activity as presenting a military or geopolitical threat to us.”