Archive for Sunday, November 16, 2008

Medvedev calls for talks with Obama

November 16, 2008


— The Dmitry Medvedev that made his first appearance in the U.S. capital as Russia's president was not the same man Russians usually see at home.

He was confident, even charming, in reaching out Saturday in a spirit of cooperation to the incoming administration of Barack Obama.

He showed none of the bluster and tough talk that he has adopted in recent months in an awkward imitation of Vladimir Putin, his predecessor and mentor who still leads the country as prime minister.

Putin's choice of Medvedev to succeed him earlier this year was seen as an effort to re-brand Russia, to improve its relations with the West and Western investors.

But the August war with Georgia, a former Soviet republic that has allied itself with Washington, led to a change in course. Medvedev quickly began to sound like Putin in casting the West as the aggressor.

The Nov. 4 election of Obama seemed to offer an opportunity for Russia and the United States to make a fresh start. But instead of welcoming Obama's election, Medvedev issued a challenge.

In a Nov. 5 speech, he warned that Russia would move short-range missiles to NATO's borders to "neutralize" a planned U.S. missile defense system in Eastern Europe if necessary.


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