Watch CBS News

Cautious optimism in Russia as Trump takes over

Russia awaits Trump presidency
Russia's hopes for incoming Trump administration 01:15

MOSCOW -- Russia, along with the rest of the world, is watching on this inauguration Friday and waiting to see what a Trump administration will actually look like.

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev fired a parting shot at the Obama administration Friday morning, reports CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Plamer. 

Russia and Europe await new "reality" of Trump presidency 02:30

He said in a lengthy message posted on Facebook that its policies have left U.S. - Russia relations at their lowest point in decades.

It was an angry message, notes Palmer, with a defensive undertone; Medvedev says it was unacceptable for the U.S. to talk to Russia as if it was a “banana republic.”

Medvedev said that while Mr. Trump’s policy toward Russia is unclear, “we are hoping that reason will prevail.”

“We are ready to do our share of the work in order to improve the relationship,” Medvedev said.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also repeated his hope that Russia and America can work together under the Trump administration.

Ideally, the Kremlin would like a the Trump White House to forget about issues like Russian hacking, or Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea, and clear the way for a fresh start and an easing of economic sanctions.

Trump says "only fools" want bad relationship with Moscow 06:12

While Mr. Trump has expressed an admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and hopes that relations between the two enormous countries can improve, it remains unclear how his rhetoric will translate into foreign policy.

Russian lawmakers lauded Mr. Trump’s inauguration, meanwhile, also hoping it will herald a period of better ties, while revelers in Moscow and elsewhere gathered for celebrations as bar and club owners sought to cash in on public excitement.

Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, predicted that Moscow will face a pragmatic but very tough partner in Mr. Trump.

“Russia’s potential is incomparable to that of the United States,” he said, adding that Moscow will have to apply a lot of skills “to play from the position of weakness and not lose.”

But despite the uncertainty, many Russians looked at Mr. Trump’s presidency with high hopes, and some nightclubs and bars called parties to celebrate the inauguration.

At one Moscow nightclub, several dozen people began toasting Mr. Trump late Thursday.

Willi Tokarev, 82, a singer who emigrated to the U.S. in the mid-1970s and later became a music legend in Russia, topped the entertainment bill with his song “Trumplissimo America!”

“Trump, Trump - symbol of America. Trump, Trump, he’s really president,” the mustachioed Tokarev sang on a tiny stage with the Russian and American flags hanging behind him.

Across from the U.S. embassy compound in central Moscow, the Russian Army store put up a poster with Mr. Trump’s picture, offering inauguration day discounts of 10 percent for Americans.

There is a broad feeling in Russia’s political and business elites that relations with Washington just can’t get any worse.

“Russia hopes that under Trump there will be no ideology, no attempts to lecture about democracy, human rights and rights of smaller nations around its borders ... but primarily deal with economic issues in a businesslike way and even tacitly divide spheres of influence,” said Alexei Arbatov, a senior researcher with the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, a government-funded Moscow think-tank.

“Putin and Obama spoke different languages, they didn’t understand one another. There is a hope that Trump and Putin will speak the same language, even though their positions may differ.”

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov voiced hope that Trump will work together with Putin on solving the Ukrainian crisis and other problems, but warned against expectations of quick progress. “Difficulties will remain,” he said.

Andrei Kuzyaev, a Russian oil tycoon who now heads ER Telecom, a leading broadband provider, said he expects Trump to “switch from political propaganda to action.”

Leonid Slutsky, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, said in an opinion piece published Friday that “constructive approach and pragmatism have practically disappeared from the Russia-U.S. agenda during Obama’s presidency.”

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.