Note Haiti: Putin Criticizes U.S. Remarks on Russia

Ellen Barry - December 1 2010, 7:05 AM

By ELLEN BARRY
Published: December 1, 2010
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Close LinkedinDiggMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink MOSCOW -- Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin responded sharply on Wednesday to criticism of Russia revealed in United States diplomatic cables published by the whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks, warning Washington not to interfere in Russian domestic affairs.

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Misha Japaridze/Associated Press
The Russian prime minister Vladimir V. Putin at the Kremlin's St. George Hall to listen to President Dmitri A. Medvedev addressing Parliament on Tuesday.

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Belarus Will Relinquish Enriched Uranium Stockpile (December 2, 2010) His comments, made in an interview to be aired on CNN's Larry King Live, referred to a cable that said "Russian democracy has disappeared" and described the government as "an oligarchy run by the security services," a statement attributed to the American defense secretary, Robert M. Gates.

Mr. Putin said Mr. Gates was "deeply misled," and said Washington does not welcome critiques of its own political system.

In the interview, Mr. Putin also warned that Russia would develop and deploy new nuclear weapons if the United States does not accept its proposals on integrating Russian and European missile defense forces -- amplifying on a comment made by President Dmitri A. Medvedev in his annual state of the nation address on Tuesday.

"We've just put forward a proposal showing how all of us, tackling the shared problem of security, could share responsibility between ourselves," he said, according to excerpts released by CNN. "But if our proposals will be met with negative answers, and if additional threats are built on our borders, Russia will have to ensure her own security through different means," including "new nuclear missile technologies."

Mr. Putin said Moscow would like to avoid this scenario.

"This is no threat on our part," he said. "We are simply saying this is what we expect to happen if we don't agree on a joint effort there."

Last month, during a NATO-Russia summit meeting in Lisbon, the delegations discussed President Obama's invitation for Russia to take some role in the future missile shield, perhaps through linkage between Russian facilities and the European shield.

Russian leaders have been restrained in their response to the WikiLeaks cables that have been made public so far. While a number of them refer to Russia, they have so far offered few real revelations about sensitive topics like corruption or power relationships within the political elite.

The comments attributed to Mr. Gates, contained in a cable dated Feb. 8, 2010, used the harshest language made public so far.

Mr. Putin said several American presidents had been elected through the electoral college system even though they did not win a majority of the popular vote, but that Russia does not press the point.

"When we are talking with our American friends and tell them there are systemic problems" with the electoral college system, "we hear from them, 'Don't interfere with our affairs, this is our tradition and it's going to continue like that.' We are not interfering."

"But to our colleagues, I would also like to advise you not to interfere with the sovereign choice of the Russian people," he said.

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