This year, Russian and American leaders always knew what to say to each other. Or did they?


U.S. President Barack Obama and Russia's President Vladimir Putin try to find common ground. Photo: Reuters

2013 was filled with a number of memorable events and achievements in U.S.-Russia relation, from the bilateral deal on Syria’s chemical weapons to the scandal around former NSA contractor Edward Snowden receiving temporary asylum in Russia. As a result, both Russian and American politicians were sometimes colorful and creative in selecting the words they addressed to each other. Here are the 10 most memorable quotes from U.S.-Russia relations in 2013.

On U.S.-Russia relations

1. From Russian President Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times

“I would rather disagree with a case he [PresidentBarack Obama] made on American exceptionalism. … It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. … We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal”

2. U.S. President Barack Obama’s interview on the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno

“There have been times where they [Russians] slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality. And what I consistently say to them, and what I say to President Putin, is that’s the past and we’ve got to think about the future, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to cooperate more effectively than we do.”

3. Russian President Putin’s comments on U.S.-Russia differences before the G20 summit in St. Petersburg

“President Obama was not elected by the American people to be pleasant for Russia, nor was your humble servant elected by the Russian people to be pleasant for somebody else. We work, debate on something, we are people, and somebody may be irritated. But it seems to me that global mutual interests are good ground to find joint decisions.”

4. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on U.S.-Russia diplomacy

"Sergey Lavrov and I are old hockey players, and we both know that diplomacy, like hockey, can sometimes result in the occasional collision.”

On Ukraine

5. U.S. Senator John McCain at the Atlantic Council in Washington

“In recent months, President Putin has pulled out all the stops to coerce, intimidate and threaten Ukraine away from Europe… This pattern of behavior amounts to a Russian bid for a kind of quasi-imperial dominance over its neighbors, a newfound assertiveness that has only grown in the void left by the administration’s absence of leadership in other parts of the world, especially Syria.”

6. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after negotiations with his Polish counterpart Radoslav Sikorsky about Ukraine

“We say every time: Let’s Ukraine make its own choice by itself – no matter if it signs [the EU integration agreement] or not, we will accept it and respect any choice. At the same time, other statements come from Brussels. And Ukraine was called to make a free choice in favor of signing the agreement with the EU. But it is not a choice, it is a kind of imposed settlement."

On Snowden

7. President Putin on the NSA scandal during the annual press conference

"How do I feel about Obama after Snowden's revelations? I envy him because he can do this without incurring any consequences."

8. President Obama at a press conference in Senegal, Africa about Snowden

"I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker. … I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally [to discuss Snowden’s extradition]. … And the reason is because, number one, I shouldn’t have to."

On the boycott of Sochi Olympics

9. Alexey Pushkov, Head of the Russian State Duma’s Committee on International Affairs, on a proposed Sochi 2014 boycott

“The call of [U.S. Senator Lindsey] Graham [R-SC] to boycott the Sochi Olympics because of Snowden throws us back to the distant past, to the times of mutual boycotts, when our countries saw each other  through the nuclear sight, figuratively speaking.”  

10. President Obama on the Sochi 2014 boycott before announcing his plans to skip the Sochi Olympics

“I do not think it’s appropriate to boycott the Olympics. We’ve got a bunch of Americans who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed. One of the things I’m looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold, or silver, or bronze. If Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, it will probably make their team weaker.”