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“It’s important that even as we move forward with President Medvedev that Putin understand that the old cold war approaches to U.S.-Russian relations is outdated — that it’s time to move forward in a different direction,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“I think Medvedev understands that,” he said. “I think Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new.”
Mr. Obama’s distinction between the two Russian leaders reflects an American strategy to build up Mr. Medvedev as a possible counterweight to Mr. Putin, who is generally believed to still be the pre-eminent power in Russia.
Mr. Medvedev struck a more diplomatic note on Thursday in a video posted on the Kremlin Web site, saying he hoped that Mr. Obama “will sense here our real interest in improving relations” after a period of tension.
“The new administration headed by President Obama is showing its willingness to change the situation and build more effective, reliable and ultimately more modern relations,” Mr. Medvedev said.