Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was branded “Robin” to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s “Batman” in U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.org, said the comments will not affect relations between the two countries.
“We are not paranoid and we do not tie U.S.-Russia relations to some leaks,” Medvedev said today in Sochi, Russia, at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, also featured in WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks’ release of diplomatic cables, including one in which Defense Secretary Robert Gates was cited as saying that “Russian democracy has disappeared, and the government was an oligarchy run by the security services,” come at a time when the two countries try to repair relations strained during the presidency of George W. Bush.
Since President Barack Obama announced last year a “reset” in relations with Russia, ties have been tested by the arrest in the U.S. of Russian secret agents. Another setback came after Republican gains in the Nov. 2 midterm elections stalled ratification of a new nuclear arms reduction treaty. Medvedev today reiterated his earlier warning a new arms race could break out in the next decade unless the U.S. and its allies welcome Russia on an equal footing in a missile-defense shield.
‘Degree of Cynicism’
Medvedev criticized the language allegedly used by U.S. diplomatic officials in their correspondences.
“These leaks are indicative, they demonstrate the entire degree of cynicism of those evaluations and often those judgments that prevail in the foreign policy of various states, in this case I am talking about the United States,” Medvedev said in televised comments.
Berlusconi dismissed the leaked cables in Sochi today, saying they appeared to be gathering “news from the press which then become part of classified reports.”
“I think this has to be made clear and not too much importance must be given to certain remarks that are certainly annoying because they spark comments in the press,” Berlusconi said. “In the end, I hope they won’t lead to changes in relations between the countries.”
Berlusconi also denied that he or the Russian leadership stood to gain financially from the growing economic ties between the two countries. In one of the dispatches released by WikiLeaks, former U.S. Ambassador to Italy Ronald P. Spogli wrote that the Georgian ambassador to Italy told U.S. embassy officials in Rome that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had promised Berlusconi a percentage from any natural-gas pipeline projects developed by Gazprom OAO and Eni SpA.
“There has never been in all these years anyone working for personal interest, never, at no time,” Berlusconi said. “We have just worked in the interest of our respective countries.”