MOSCOW – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he expects the next U.S. administration to improve the two countries' strained relations and urged Washington to remember that "mutual interests outweigh some disagreements" during global crises.
"This was so in World War I and World War II. We in Russia have never forgotten this. We would like our American partners to remember this as well," Putin was quoted as saying in an interview published Saturday in the French daily Le Figaro.
A Russian transcript was posted on the government's Web site.
"During (Abraham) Lincoln's time, a U.S. statesman who was secretary of state at the time said that we (Americans) prefer relations with Russia to relations with all other European countries if only because Russia always wishes us well," Putin said.
He said although ages have passed since Lincoln's time, "when global crises have emerged in the world, Russia and the U.S. have always been together."
The recent war in Georgia has dragged U.S.-Russian relations down to a post-Cold War low, with Washington accusing Moscow of being heavy handed and Moscow countering that U.S. military aid to Georgia stoked the war in the first place.
Ties had already become fraught amid U.S. plans to place a missile defense system on Russia's doorstep in Eastern Europe and the eastward expansion of NATO, which Russia views as an extension of the U.S. army.
Putin seemed to acknowledge that recent developments make any turn for the better unlikely at least until a new U.S. president is elected.
But even then, any moves to improve relations will be up to Washington, Putin said in typically bullish fashion.
"They spoiled them, let them improve them," he said.