A "reset" of Moscow's relations with the United States is "absolutely impossible" as long as "destructive" and "stupid" sanctions remain in effect, according to Russia's prime minister. In an exclusive interview with CNBC, Dmitry Medvedev also expressed dismay at President Barack Obama's speech before the UN General Assembly in which he labeled Russia a key threat, second only to the deadly Ebola virus and ahead of ISIS. "I don't want to dignify it with a response," Medvedev said. "It's sad, it's like some kind of mental aberration."
Relations between the Kremlin and White House have been at their lowest ebb since the Cold War after Ukraine ousted its Moscow-backed president in favor of a government supported by the West. Asked whether the superpowers could wipe the slate clean while Western sanctions were in place, Medvedev said: "No, of course not. It's absolutely impossible." The U.S. and European Union imposed rounds of sanctions in response to the annexation of Crimea and Moscow's apparent support of rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine. "It's an absolutely destructive and, I would even go as far as saying, a stupid position," Medvedev said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested a “reset” in a speech last month. Medvedev also commented on the decision by Russia, an ally of Syria’s President Bashar Assad, not to join efforts to combat ISIS. "All decisions on combating terrorist activities [need] to be based on international consensus," he said. "Not on a decision taken by one country, even a highly respected one, but international consensus."
- Geoff Cutmore, Antonia Matthews and Alexander Smith