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Russian Leader Blames America for Global Woes


Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has blamed the United States for the global financial crisis and recent fighting in the Caucasus, but says he hopes the new U.S. administration will choose improved relations with Moscow. VOA Correspondent Peter Fedynsky reports from the Russian capital.

About five minutes into his 90-minute State of the Nation Address, his first since assuming office in May, President Medvedev laid blame for the Georgian conflict in August on the administration of U.S. President George Bush, whose policies he characterized as arrogant, intolerant of criticism, and unilateral.

Mr. Medvedev says the recent conflict was used as a pretext to bring NATO warships into the Black Sea and to accelerate imposition of a U.S. missile-defense system in Europe. He warned that system would not go unanswered.

The Kremlin leader says Russia will neutralize U.S. missiles, if necessary, by deployment of the Iskander anti-missile system in the Kaliningrad region, which borders Poland and Lithuania. He says the Russian navy and electronic jamming would also be used against any U.S. missiles in Central Europe.

The Iskander is short-range missile designated in the West as the SS-26. Russia has long dismissed American assurances that the proposed Central European missile deployment is aimed against a potential missile attack from Iran.

On economic matters, the Russian leader alleged American greed led to the world's current financial crisis.

Mr. Medvedev says the United States, having inflated its financial belly to stimulate is own growth, not only failed to coordinate its actions with other global financial players, but also ignored any fundamental sense of restraint.

The Russian leader's harsh criticism of the United States was accompanied by a renewed Kremlin call for multilateral international institutions to deal with various global problems, such as finance and arms control. He noted that U.S.-Russian relations play a key role in the resolution of such issues and called for America's new administration to choose full-fledged relations with Moscow.

Independent political observer Alexey Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center told VOA that Russian concerns may not be a priority with the incoming Obama administration.

Malashenko says that for Mr. Obama, there may be problems far greater than, for example, the Caucasus, which most of the president-elect's constituents know little about. The observer, therefore, doubts Obama will quickly drop everything to resolve Russian problems.

The bulk of Mr. Medvedev's state of the nation address was devoted to domestic issues. While he did not dwell on the severe financial losses Russia has suffered in the current financial crisis, he said the country would come out of it stronger than before. He also reiterated calls for social, political and judicial reforms, including better schools and health care, development of a multi-party system and independent courts.

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