Moscow — Russian officials expressed astonishment Friday over CIA director George Tenet's description of Russia as a security threat and his concern that President Vladimir Putin is trying to return the country to its Soviet past.
The Foreign Ministry issued a strongly worded statement defending Russia's policy toward the United States, saying Russia considers Washington its chief partner in maintaining international strategic stability and calling for dialogue on divisive issues.
Russia is still feeling its way along with the new administration of President Bush, although the Kremlin has made no secret of its opposition to the White House's support for a national missile defense and further eastward expansion of NATO.
Testimony by Tenet before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday has rankled the Russians.
Tenet painted a gloomy picture of Putin's Russia, saying there was little doubt that the Kremlin wanted "to restore some aspects of the Soviet past." Assessing global security threats, Tenet also said Russia was using weapons sales to improve ties with countries such as China, India and Iran countries he said pose a security threat.
In its two-page statement, the Foreign Ministry said one couldn't expect a balanced assessment from the CIA because of its Cold War past. "But in spite of this, a series of statements by George Tenet are astonishing, to put it mildly," it said.
Russia thinks the Bush administration has yet to formulate its Russia policy and will not do so until more State and Defense department appointments are made, analyst Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute of the USA and Canada, told journalists Friday.