Washington briefing: Obama promises to “reset” relations with Russia

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday December 13, 2008

Obama with Sen. Dick Lugar on visit to Russia in 2005. Wikimedia photo.

President-elect Barack Obama said he was determining when to meet Russian leaders and said there was a need to "reset U.S.-Russia relations" following tensions earlier this year.

In comments to NBC's "Meet the Press" on December 7, Mr. Obama said, "we want to cooperate with [Russia] where we can." But he also charged that Russia was "acting in ways that are contrary to international norms" and should stop "bullying" U.S.-backed Georgia.

In an interview on December 4, Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also sounded conciliatory, noting "positive signals" from Mr. Obama's team.

"We hear that one should build relations with Russia, taking into account its interests," Mr. Putin was quoted as saying by Reuters. He was apparently referring to the president-elect's promises to review Bush administration support for missile defense in Europe and NATO's continued eastward expansion - two policies that have especially aggravated Russia.

"If these are not just words, if they get transformed into a practical policy, then of course our reaction will be appropriate and our American partners will feel this at once," said Mr. Putin.

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