U.S.-Russian cooperation is based on mutual interests, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday when asked if the U.S. president will have the same kind of relationship with president-elect Vladimir Putin after he is sworn in that he had with outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
“Our policy towards Russia is based on our interests and not on personalities. And the reset policy that the president [Barack Obama] pursued after he took office with Russia produced benefits for U.S. national security interests, U.S. commercial interests, and that is why he launched that reset and why he pursued it,” Carney said.
“We obviously look forward to continuing to cooperate and work with Russia where we agree on issues, and that's regardless of who the president is,” he said.
Speaking on the March 4 presidential election in Russia that saw Prime Minister Putin win by a landslide, Carney said: “International observers noted that Mr. Putin won a majority of the vote, but we also note the irregularities that have been reported.”
“This is not a personality-based policy. It’s a policy based on an approach based on U.S. national interests and the areas where we can reach and agreement with Russia on things like Iran, on trade and other matters,” the spokesman said.
Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) certified on Wednesday Putin's victory in Sunday's presidential elections, in which he gained 63.6 percent of the vote.
Critics refused to recognize the polls as legitimate, citing widespread allegations of ballot-stuffing and multiple voting. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a report that the election campaign was slanted in favor of Putin and that irregularities were observed during the vote. The polls triggered protest rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Russia’s election chief, Vladimir Churov, called the polls the “most honest, open and transparent” in the world. Putin, who will be inaugurated on May 7, admitted on Tuesday that irregularities had taken place at the polls and called for a probe.
Putin was Russia's president between 2000 and 2008, when he was forced to stand down by the Constitution. He became prime minister after the inauguration of his hand-picked successor, Medvedev. The two men are now expected to swap jobs.