Russia’s reaction to Obama’s election victory

The Kremlin was tardy in extending its congratulations to Barack Obama, waiting until after midday in Moscow, but it said the news was “very positively” received.

The president, Vladimir Putin, sent Obama an official telegram, the contents of which were not disclosed, to mark Obama’s re-election.

“In general the Kremlin received the news about Barack Obama’s election victory very positively,” said Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, the Interfax news agency reported. “We are hoping for a positive start to the two-sided relationship and co-operation between Russia and the USA.”

There has been relatively little interest in the US elections in Russia, with a widespread belief that the outcome is unlikely to have much effect on relations between the two countries.

Russia’s leading television channel, Perviy Kanal, showed a cooking programme during Obama’s acceptance speech, which took place in the middle of the morning in Moscow. And reports about a a drunken shooting spree in a Moscow warehouse that killed five people was ahead of the US elections at the top of many news bulletins through the day.

But the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, was outspoken in his relief at Obama’s victory over Romney, who described Russia, in a now infamous remark, as the US’s “number-one geopolitical foe” during campaigning earlier this year.

“I am happy that the president of the biggest and most influential state in the world will not be a person who thinks Russia is the number-one enemy: that’s paranoia,” Interfax Medvedev. “Like America or not, but every Russian family is dependent on the state of the dollar.”

Medvedev expressed his satisfaction on Twitter. “@BarackObama Congratulations!” he wrote.

Both officials and opposition politicians appeared pleased by Romney’s defeat. Romney had advocated “the practical return to the foreign policies of President George Bush the younger,” said Alexei Pushkov, the ruling United Russia party’s chairman of the Duma’s international affairs committee, RIA-Novosti reported.

And the former deputy energy minister and opposition activist Vladimir Milov wrote on Twitter that “the hope that Romney would have been tough with Putin was very naive … Romney and Putin would have been best of friends.”

But not all commentators were welcoming. The head of the Kremlin-friendly Liberal Democrat party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said Obama’s re-election was the start of a “slow self-isolation” for the US and that it meant the country was “doomed to stagnation”.

The US ambassador in Moscow, Michael McFaul, who is a close associate of Obama and a mastermind of his “reset” policy with Russia, said Obama was likely to visit Russia in 2013.

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