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‘Where is the reset?’: sceptical Putin asks in interview

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday he wanted to believe in the much-vaunted “reset” in ties between Moscow and Washington but indicated he was somewhat sceptical about the US administration’s intentions.

He voiced unease about US plans for a missile defence shield in Europe, saying ongoing talks with several European countries on hosting missile interceptors ran counter to the reset launched by US President Barack Obama.

“We have spoken about our stance on the missile defense in Europe. It looks like we’ve agreed there won’t be countermissiles and the issue on radars has not been yet solved in the Czech Republic. Great!” Putin said in an interview with the Kommersant daily published on Monday.

“And practically immediately they announce that the same is being planned for other countries in Europe. So where is the reset? So we do not see it in this respect,” he said.

Obama in September 2009 shelved an initiative by his predecessor George W. Bush to place an anti-missile radar facility in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland.

However Bulgaria and Romania this year began talks with the US on hosting anti-ballistic missile interceptors. Putin indicated he had not yet lost hope.

“I very much want to believe in it (the reset). Secondly I want it very much. Thirdly I see that the current US administration’s intentions to improve relations with Russia are clearly defined,” he said.

“I feel that Obama is sincere. I do not know what he can do, what he can’t do. I want to see whether he manages to do it. But he does want it. I have an instinct that his position is sincere.”

The Russian premier also criticised US support for Georgia, with which Russia fought a brief war in August 2008.

“Further rearming of Georgia is taking place. Why?” he asked. “If there had not been rearming two years ago, there would not have been the aggression and the blood that was spilt there.”

Moscow has often criticised Washington for selling arms to Georgia, which in August 2008 launched an offensive against the pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia, later recognized as independent by Russia.