Putin on Romney: I can work with him

Last week, I noted how the Russian press was positively livid over Mitt Romney’s aggressive posture toward Russia. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin jumped into fray — with a surprisingly measured response to a candidate who has asked whether Putin will  "bludgeon the countries of the former Soviet Union into submission, and intimidate Europe with ...

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Last week, I noted how the Russian press was positively livid over Mitt Romney's aggressive posture toward Russia.

Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin jumped into fray -- with a surprisingly measured response to a candidate who has asked whether Putin will  "bludgeon the countries of the former Soviet Union into submission, and intimidate Europe with the levers of its energy resources."

Asked by Russia's RT television whether he would be able to work with a President Romney, Putin smiled. "We'll work with whoever gets elected as president by the American people," he said. But he also tossed the ball in America's court, adding, "our effort will only be as efficient as our partners allow it to be." Here's the clip (RT will air the full interview on Thursday):

Last week, I noted how the Russian press was positively livid over Mitt Romney’s aggressive posture toward Russia.

Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin jumped into fray — with a surprisingly measured response to a candidate who has asked whether Putin will  "bludgeon the countries of the former Soviet Union into submission, and intimidate Europe with the levers of its energy resources."

Asked by Russia’s RT television whether he would be able to work with a President Romney, Putin smiled. "We’ll work with whoever gets elected as president by the American people," he said. But he also tossed the ball in America’s court, adding, "our effort will only be as efficient as our partners allow it to be." Here’s the clip (RT will air the full interview on Thursday):

Putin’s restraint is a bit surprising given that just last week, his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, criticized Romney more pointedly for his assertion at the Republican convention that, if elected, he would show Putin "a little less flexibility and more backbone." U.S. and Russian officials have repeatedly "expressed their understanding that it is inadmissable for the bilateral ties to fall victim to pre-election debates," Peskov said.

Putin, it seems, is taking the high ground on this one. 

Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland. Twitter: @UriLF

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