MOSCOW(AP) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that leaked U.S. diplomatic cables show "the full measure of cynicism" in U.S. foreign policy.
Medvedev, who was belittled in a cable released by the website WikiLeaks as playing Robin to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s Batman, scolded the United States over the diplomatic disaster but avoided harsh criticism.
"These leaks are telling: they show the whole world the cynicism of the assessments and at times the judgments that prevail in the foreign policy of various states — in this case, the United States," Medvedev said.
Stressing that "diplomacy is a quiet business" and should stay that way, he warned "when such judgments become public, they are capable of harming foreign ties and affecting the general spirit of relations as a whole.
"On the other hand, I don’t see anything critical here," Medvedev added, speaking at a briefing with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the southern Russian resort of Krasnaya Polyana.
"We are not paranoid, and we do not link Russian-American relations with any leaks," he said.
Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables, many based on assessments from Russian political analysts and opposition figures, portray Russia as a lawless country dominated by a corrupt elite and Medvedev as Putin’s subordinate — even his sidekick.
Medvedev has embraced U.S. President Barack Obama’s campaign to "reset" ties with Moscow, which deteriorated to a post-Cold War low with Russia’s war against pro-Western Georgia in 2008.
The tone of relations has improved significantly, weathering potentially damaging blows such as the July arrest in the United States of Russians the Kremlin has acknowledged were spies.
In an interview with CNN earlier this week, Putin bristled at a U.S. portrayal of Russia as undemocratic and said the United States must not interfere in Russian politics, but he stressed that leaked diplomatic cables were "no catastrophe".
As with the summer spy scandal, the Kremlin’s caustic but careful response to the leaked cables seems calculated to avoid unnecessary harm to a relationship that is raising Russia’s global profile and could bring tangible benefits.
Obama and Medvedev in April signed a pact that, if ratified, will help ensure the U.S. nuclear arsenal cannot overwhelm Russia’s, and the White House is supporting Russia’s final-stretch bid for World Trade Organisation membership.
Medvedev is eager for Western investment to help modernise the country’s energy-reliant economy, and is trying to parlay a U.S. and NATO offer of cooperation on missile defence into a stronger role for Russia in European security architecture.
Against the backdrop of the diplomatic scandal, Putin and Medvedev have signalled that the United States will face a more belligerent Russia if it fails to ignores their concerns and sets up a European missile shield that Moscow sees as a threat.
On Friday, Medvedev repeated a warning he issued in a Kremlin address on Tuesday, threatening a renewed "arms race" with the West if the Cold War foes cannot reach a mutually satisfactory agreement on missile defence in 10 years.
"We need to understand this now, in 2010 — because in 2020 we will have to take different decisions. We will have to deploy corresponding missiles, set up radars and anger one another," he said.