Relations between the USA and Russia sank to the lowest point in a decade when Vladimir Putin harshly rebuked Washington for its criticism last week and compared the US to a hungry wolf that "eats and listens to no one". Although he refrained from mentioning the US by name, it was clear that the "wolf" in question referred to Washington.
The reason for such words was the statements made by American vice-president Dick Cheney at a conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, last week. He said that Russia was sending "mixed signals" over democracy, as well as using its energy resources to "intimidate and blackmail" neighbours.
The war of words is a long way from the optimism with which George Bush said, after his first face-to-face meeting with Mr Putin in 2001, that he had looked into the Russian president's soul and liked what he saw, The Guardian says.
Boris Makarenko, deputy head of the Centre for Political Technologies, said the speech marked the beginning of a new approach in which Russia, bolstered by high oil and gas prices, had stopped discussing democracy and other issues with the west and had said instead: "We are strong, we have wealth and we'll use it in a way we consider necessary."
Mr Makarenko said the bitter exchange between Washington and Moscow during the past week was designed to get their mutual criticisms out of the way prior to Russia chairing the G8 summit in St Petersburg in July.
Some western sources think that the statements of the Russian president are the announcement of “cold war”. For example, The Daily Telegraph says that “ Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, raised the spectre of the Cold War, likening the United States to a voracious wolf and declaring that the arms race was not yet over. With relations between Moscow and Washington at their most strained in many years, Mr Putin used his annual state of the nation speech to revive Russia's military rivalry with the United States.”
According to Financial Times “the Russian president worryingly used his annual "state of the union" speech to jab back at last week's hawkish critique of his policies by Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, in a way that bodes ill for co-operative results coming out of St Petersburg. Gone is the language of partnership that both the White House and the Kremlin had used about each other”.
The Washington Post sees the statements of the Russia president differently: “President Vladimir Putin took a swipe at the United States in his state of the nation address Wednesday, bristling at being lectured by Vice President Cheney and comparing Washington to a wolf who "eats without listening."
During an emotional moment in the nationally televised speech, Putin used a fairy-tale motif on building a fortress-like house to illustrate Russia's need to bolster its defenses. He also suggested that the United States puts its political interests above the democratic ideals it claims to cherish.”
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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