Russia wants Gates to explain remarks

Feb. 12, 2007 at 5:39 PM
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MOSCOW, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Russia Monday called for the new U.S. defense secretary to clarify his comments that Russia might have an uncertain future.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last Wednesday the United States had to prepare for the possibility of combating major armies and that it also needed significant Special Forces because he did not know what might happen in Russia, North Korea, Iran and China in the future.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said Monday he was "perplexed" by Gates comments and those of some other senior Bush administration officials, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. Kamynin criticized such comments as reflecting "a certain system of negative assessments" of Russia, the RIA Novosti report said.

"We proceed [from the assumption that] our relations are based on mutual interest in the consolidation of strategic partnership, above all in the joint fight against real and not imaginary threats to the global order, international terrorism, WMD proliferation and so on," Kamynin said.

Kamynin expressed the hope that Gates' statements were not symptomatic of real Bush administration policy and were only rhetorical remarks meant to improve the chances that the Democratic-controlled 110th U.S. Congress would pass the new Pentagon defense budget without significant cuts.

RIA Novosti noted that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov made a similar point Friday when he was speaking at the annual Munich Security Conference.

"In principle, as defense minister, I can understand this statement. All sorts of tricks are used to approve the budget," RIA Novosti quoted Ivanov as saying. "As far as predictability is concerned, I believe that Russia is as predictable as the United States."

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