Putin Wishes Obama a Happy New Year

On the last day of 2013, the Russian president praises his American counterpart for a tough but successful year of working together.

National Journal
Marina Koren
Dec. 31, 2013, 5:38 a.m.

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.

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