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Russia Reacts To President-Elect Obama

GREGORY FEIFER: This is Gregory Feifer in Moscow.


FEIFER: In the early morning hours, people gathered inside an American diner in central Moscow to watch the election results. Most here were foreigners. There's only a small handful of native Russian speakers here. As often happens, they don't want to give their full names. Irina is actually from the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.

IRINA: (Russian spoken)

FEIFER: She says Russians have been paying attention to the election campaign because it matters who leads a country as powerful as the United States. But she says Russians didn't see a real difference between John McCain and Barack Obama. Russian politicians bridled at John McCain's call to kick Russia out of the Group of Eight leading industrial countries and fierce denunciation of Moscow's invasion of Georgia last month. But analyst Kiril Rogov says, in private most politicians wanted McCain to win.

M: (Russian spoken)

FEIFER: Russian officials were ready for the kind of old-style confrontation a McCain presidency appeared to offer, he says. Obama has promised a new model of foreign relations, and that worries Russian politicians. President Dmitri Medvedev has already indicated Moscow will not be changing its hard line rhetoric toward Obama's administration. In a state of the nation address today, Medvedev lashed out against what he called selfish U.S. foreign policy and announced Moscow will set up a new missile base near the Polish border. Gregory Feifer, NPR News, Moscow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Gregory Feifer
Gregory Feifer reports for NPR from Moscow, covering Russia's resurgence under President Vladimir Putin and the country's transition to the post-Putin era. He files from other former Soviet republics and across Russia, where he's observed the effects of the country's vast new oil wealth on an increasingly nationalistic society as well as Moscow's rekindling of a new Cold War-style opposition to the West.