From the valedictory press conference given by Russian President Vladimir V. Putin:
But Putin signaled that Russia is not ready to take dramatic military or diplomatic steps in retaliation for recognition of Kosovo’s independence. If someone takes an illegal, ill-considered decision, we won’t follow suit, he said.
He refused to back away from a threat to target some nuclear missiles at Poland and the Czech Republic if those countries host a planned U.S. anti-ballistic missile system. We are warning people ahead of time: If you take this step, then we will make that step, Putin said.
Despite these differences, Putin said he was ready to work with whoever is elected the next U.S. president, saying Russia and the U.S. have common interests in the fights against international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, poverty and infectious disease.
But the former KGB lieutenant colonel appeared to lash out at U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton—a leading Democratic candidate for president—when one reporter quoted her as saying that former KGB officers have no soul: At a minimum, a head of state should have a head, Putin said.
I don’t wail, weep, or bemoan that other world leaders have a low opinion of the president of the United States. They’ve had a low opinion of every sitting president of the United States in my memory with the possible exception of Eisenhower. It is merely a fact.
But I do urge my fellow citizens not to have unrealistic expectations over the degree to which George W. Bush’s successor will induce the rest of the world to reconsider their impressions of the United States and, particularly, the U. S. government. Other countries have their own interests and will continue to do so regardless of who’s living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds