Russian official: Romney’s hard line could bring ‘full-scale crisis’


MOSCOW -- Mitt Romney’s comment that Russia is America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe,” a red-meat line for Republicans, is also attracting some attention in Moscow.

Alexey Pushkov, chairman of the international affairs committee of the State Duma, said in a recent interview that Russian leaders have noted Romney’s comments with concern, and are watching with interest as neoconservative and “realist” advisers maneuver for influence within the campaign.

“We don’t think that for us Romney will be an easy partner,” said Pushkov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin. “We think that Romney will be, on the rhetorical side, a replay of the Bush administration.”

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He also noted Romney’s statements that the United States should assert its dominance in the 21st century.

“If he is serious about this, I’m afraid he may choose the neocon-type people…In the first year of his presidency, we may have a full-scale crisis,” he said.

Romney, in an interview with CNN in March, called Russia “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe, they fight for every cause for the world’s worst actors. The idea that [Obama] has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed.”

Pushkov said Russian leaders have noticed that Romney has among his foreign policy advisers several foreign policy figures often described as neoconservatives, such as Robert Kagan. “We don’t find it very positive,” he said.

Pushkov said that the “reset” in U.S.-Russia relations that Obama has portrayed as a signature foreign policy accomplishment “is stuck, basically. It needs another reset.”

Nevertheless, though the U.S. and Russia are at odds on issues such as Syria and missile defense, Obama would be “acceptable” as a partner for Russia in a second term, Pushkov said.

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Obama and Putin showed in their recent meeting in Mexico that “they don’t want a personal conflict,” he said.

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