It's Independence Day in America, and what's a better way to celebrate than with a peaceful message from our frenemies in the East? Russian President Vladimir Putin sent President Obama a "Happy Fourth of July" card of sorts on Saturday, congratulating America for its exceptionalism and winning the Cold War, obviously. The two world leaders have long been on the outs, with their relationship chilled further by the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, which resulted in tightened economic sanctions and the ousting of Russia from the G8 Summit.
In a statement released Saturday, the Kremlin said:
In his message of congratulations, the Russian President noted that, despite the differences between the two countries, Russian-American relations remain the most important factor of international stability and security. Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that Russia and the USA can find solutions to the most complicated international issues and efficiently resist global threats and challenges as they base their dialogue on principles of equality and respect of each other’s interests.
The Kremlin's release did not provide any additional details about Putin's love note — er, congratulatory message — to Obama. But if we had to guess, here's some things Putin could thank America for on its 239th birthday:
- the military industrial complex
- astronaut Scott Kelly
- Edward Snowden
- 1994 Ford Mustangs
- mediocre figure skating talent
- giving something Pussy Riot can riot for outside Moscow
- not deploying troops to eastern Ukraine
- FX's The Americans (it's a good show)
This actually isn't too unusual for the Russian president. In 2014, the Kremlin released a Fourth of July message with a similar sentiment, asking for Moscow to be treated as an equal partner in the international world. However, relations between Russia and the United States have only deteriorated since the last Fourth of July, with a slew of broken ceasefires between Ukraine and Russian angering Obama and his European allies.
In June, Germany hosted the G7 Summit without Russia. It was the first time Russia didn't attend the summit of world leaders since the nation joined in 1997 — the year that the G7 Summit officially became the G8 Summit. Now back to just seven countries, the 2015 summit was a huge snub to Russia and Putin by not only the United States, but also the largest leaders in Europe, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.
But while Putin is asking for peace and diplomacy, it's uncertain at this time if he'll be able to thaw out relations with Obama and the West without addressing the ongoing military conflict in eastern Ukraine, including the Russian annexation of Crimea, which many world leaders saw as an affront to Ukrainian sovereignty. (That swift takeover, too, was a major reason for kicking Russia out of the G8.) Fighting continues in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian separatists backed by Moscow have much of the control.
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