The problem with pretending everything is OK with Russian relations is that Russian politicians just don’t like to be criticized, especially by their own people. And they’ll find anyone to blame it on.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strongly criticized U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday, accusing her of encouraging and funding Russians protesting election fraud, and warned of a wider Russian crackdown on dissent.

By describing Russia’s parliamentary election as rigged, Putin said Clinton "gave a signal" to his opponents.

"They heard this signal and with the support of the U.S. State Department began their active work," Putin said in televised remarks. He said the United States is spending "hundreds of millions" of dollars to influence Russian politics with the aim of weakening a rival nuclear power.

Putin’s tough words show the deep cracks in U.S.-Russian ties despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to "reset" relations with the Kremlin. Ahead of the election, President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to deploy missiles to target the U.S. missile shield in Europe if Washington failed to assuage Moscow’s concerns about its plans.

Clinton has repeatedly criticized Sunday’s parliamentary vote in Russia, saying "Russian voters deserve a full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation."

Tell the truth to the Russians, get blamed for everything. Obama naïvely blamed Bush for…well, just about everything. But the fact is, Russian relations have very little to do with being nice to them or presenting toy reset buttons.

Filed under: Foreign PolicyGovernmentRussia

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