The last time President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin met, in September, they shared a brief handshake and pleasant smiles. Next year, Putin hopes there might be a few more moments like that.
In a New Year’s Eve greeting to Obama on Tuesday, the Russian president praised cooperation between the two nations in 2013. He said Moscow is “determined to pursue constructive relations” with the United States.
“The events of this year have vividly shown that by acting in the spirit of partnership and respect for each other’s interests, Russia and the U.S. are able to make an actual contribution to efforts aimed at maintaining global stability and resolving the most complex international problems,” Putin wrote, according to The Voice of Russia.
This year has been a rocky one for U.S.-Russian relations, thanks to a myriad of reasons: a ban on Americans adopting Russian children, Edward Snowden, conflict in Syria, critical op-eds, and American concerns with antigay laws in Russia ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
In times of tragedy, however, the two countries have put politics aside. After two suicide bombings killed dozens in Russia this week, the White House offered its “full support” to Moscow in security preparations for the winter games, adding that it “stands in solidarity with the Russian people against terrorism.”
The two countries have closed out the year on shakier terms in the past. On this day in 1961, President Kennedy issued a statement extending his “sincere wishes” to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and the rest of the Soviet Union for a peaceful and prosperous New Year. The year had been a “troubled one” between the two world powers, Kennedy wrote, and he hoped 1962 would bring improved relations. Khrushchev pledged future cooperation too. Their holiday exchange came at the height of the Cold War, when nuclear war was almost a palpable threat.