US: Vladimir Putin return will not affect "reset"


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton



The Obama administration said Saturday that the expected return of Vladimir Putin to Russia's presidency next year will not affect the "reset" in relations between the two countries, Reuters reports.

While analysts said Putin's return could complicate matters, the White House said Saturday that it remains committed to improving relations with Russia, no matter who is in power.

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"We will continue to build on the progress of the reset [with] whoever serves as the next president of Russia, because we believe that it is in the mutual interests of the United States and Russia and the world," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in statement.

Fixing relations with Russia has been a foreign policy priority for President Barack Obama since he took office in 2008.

Putin's return to the presidency has long been discussed, but the move became all but certain Saturday when Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev proposed that his predecessor make another run for the position. Putin was president from 2000 to 2008 and then became prime minister because the constitution barred him from running for three consecutive terms.

The New York Times reports that Putin's return is also unlikely to affect the economic reforms put into place under Medvedev, who has worked to make Russia less dependent on oil and have a stronger technology sector.

"This is not because of any discernible change in Mr. Putin’s economic beliefs, but because the profits from oil and other exports can no longer sustain the rising living standards that have underpinned his leadership and the rollback of democratic institutions," it states.

According to a BBC profile of Putin, "to his admirers he represents order and stability, to his critics — repression and fear."