MOSCOW (Reuters, AFP) - Russia is ready for cooperation with the United States, provided it is based on respect for each others' interests and non-interference in domestic affairs, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
"We are ready for practical cooperation with our American partners in different fields, based on the principles of respect for each others' interests, equal rights and non-interference in internal matters," Mr Putin told a Kremlin ceremony at which he received the credentials of the new US ambassador, Mr John Tefft.
Cold War-era rivals Russia and the United States are locked in a tug-of-war over the fate of former Soviet republic Ukraine, with Washington imposing sanctions and Mr Obama branding Moscow’s actions over Ukraine a “threat to the world”.
Mr Tefft – known for backing the pro-Western aspirations of former Soviet states – succeeded Mr Michael McFaul, who abruptly quit his post in February after just two years on the job. Mr Tefft served as US ambassador to Ukraine from 2009 to 2013 and was Washington’s representative in Georgia during its five-day war with Russia in 2008. His predecessor McFaul, a Stanford university professor, frequently sparked Russia’s fury with critical comments on Twitter and meetings with Russian opposition activists.
Meeting his supporters on Tuesday, Mr Putin claimed the United States wanted to subjugate Russia but would never succeed. “They want to subdue us, want to solve their problems at our expense,” the Russian President said. “No one in history ever managed to do this to Russia, and no one ever will.”
In a fresh sign of mounting Russia-West tensions, Mr Putin at the weekend faced scorn from Western leaders at a G-20 summit in Australia which he left early.
In unusually blunt remarks on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Russia’s aggression against Ukraine threatened Europe’s “peaceful order”.
In an apparent effort to calm tensions, Mr Putin said on Tuesday that no one in the West wanted to see an escalation. “No one wants to ramp up tensions in the world, trust me, and they in the United States do not want this really, I mean the general public, citizens. So everything will sort itself out,” he said.
Separately, Mr Putin on Wednesday also accepted credentials from North Korea’s ambassador after receiving Mr Kim Jong Un’s special envoy at the Kremlin on Tuesday evening. Mr Putin said that developing political and economic ties between Russia and North Korea was in the interests of the two countries and would strengthen “regional security and stability”.
The United Nations on Tuesday adopted a landmark resolution condemning North Korean rights abuses and laying the groundwork for putting the Pyongyang regime in the dock for crimes against humanity.