In an interview conducted with Russia Today and broadcasted to coincide with the beginning of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vladivostok, Russian president Vladimir Putin had some interesting yet predictable comments on the presidential election. It appears he’s looking forward to “more flexibility” from the U.S. in Obama’s second term as much as our president is. The Times reports:
“Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current President Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes,” Mr. Putin said, according to the official transcript posted on the Kremlin’s Web site. “But this isn’t just about President Obama.
“For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere,” Mr. Putin continued. “I met him recently on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man, and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?”
Mr. Putin mentioned the American military establishment and the State Department as obstacles to a compromise, and he said he faced similar challenges working with Russia’s own generals and career diplomats.
With a reminder of Mr. Romney’s remark about Russia, Mr. Putin was asked if he could work with a Romney administration.
“Yes, we can,” he said. “We’ll work with whichever president gets elected by the American people. But our effort will only be as efficient as our partners will want it to be.”
He added a sharp rebuke, accusing Mr. Romney of using inflamed language for political gain. . . . “As for Mr. Romney’s position, we understand that this is to a certain extent motivated by the election race,” Mr. Putin said in the televised interview. “But I also think that he was obviously wrong, because such behavior on the international arena is the same as using nationalism and segregation as tools of U.S. domestic policy.”
It strikes me as a bit surprising that Putin would claim to understand what the pressures of a democratic election to feel like, but he certainly knows international jingoism as useful domestic politics when he sees it.