Putin aide seeks to calm worries over Russia-US ties


A veteran aide to Vladimir Putin sought to dispel the impression that relations with Washington were on a downward spiral after anti-U.S. remarks from the Russian president and his decision not to attend the G8 summit.

Putin, a former KGB spy, snubbed an invitation to the U.S. this month and blamed U.S. officials for meddling in Russia’s internal affairs during the election campaign before a March 4 vote, stoking worries that his return heralded a new standoff.
“Vladimir Vladimirovich (Putin) is set for the most active development of stable, smooth and constructive relationship with the American partners,” Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy aide and a former Russian ambassador to the United States, told reporters at a briefing on Putin’s upcoming foreign trips, Reuters reports.
“What is important is that this determination is also shared in the White House,” Ushakov said.

Putin will travel to former Soviet neighbouring states over the next two weeks as well as visiting Berlin, Paris and Bejing on visits which will officially put him back into the front seat of Russian foreign policy.

Ushakov said Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama had exchanged long letters in which the two leaders outlined their vision for bilateral and international policy.

The U.S. and Russia disagree on a number of foreign policy issues. On Tuesday a foreign ministry spokesman said that the relationship may suffer if Russian companies are affected by U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran over its disputed nuclear work.

But Ushakov held out hope for progress on bridging divisions over a U.S.-backed missile shield in Europe, which has become a major stumbling block in relations between the superpowers.

He said the talks, which have recently featured assertive rhetoric and threats of countermeasures, may take a different direction after the U.S. presidential election in November.
“I do not rule out that negotiations on this issue will receive a new impulse after the U.S. election,” Ushakov said.
“The election campaign is not the most convenient period for a consensus on such a sensitive issue to be reached.”

Ushakov said Putin was “satisfied” with the overall mood during his two recent telephone conversations with Obama on March 9 and May 9 and looked forward to a “good and intense conversation” on the sidelines of a June G20 summit in Mexico.

Ushakov said that Putin thought it was important to strengthen economic ties between the two nations as a buffer against possible swings in the political relationship, especially during election cycles.

The United States accounts for only 3.7 percent of Russian foreign trade compared with 10.5 percent for China but investment is set to grow after U.S. oil firm ExxonMobil unveiled a $500 billion deal with Russia’s Rosneft.
“During these domestic political events (elections), emotions sometime run high, and it is important to have a solid foundation which could contain them and provide the possibility to develop the relationship further,” he said.