MOSCOW — Russia hopes that the next U.S. president will help "cure" the icy relations between Washington and Moscow, according to one of Vladimir Putin's closest aides.
In a wide-ranging interview with NBC News, the Russian president's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin would not try to "put our nose in your business" in the run-up to the 2016 election.
"We do want to believe that whoever is elected as a new American president will [work] for a cure in our bilateral relations," Peskov said. "We will respect your choice and we will welcome any slightest sympathy toward our bilateral relations."
Ties between the rivals have deteriorated over the crisis in Ukraine, triggering fears of a renewed Cold War.
Peskov acknowledged there were problems the Russia and the U.S. could not solve on their own — such as "the fight against terrorism" — and said Moscow was "looking forward to curing our relationship from the period of freezing that we currently live through."
He added: "We are open and will continue to be open, but you cannot tango alone. If Washington doesn't want to do that, we are patient enough that this readiness will appear somewhere in the depths of Washington."
Asked whether Putin would be able to work with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should she be elected to the White House, Peskov said the Russian leader was "very pragmatic" and "always open for cooperation and for reestablishing a good relationship."
Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, did an impression of Putin during an event in January and joked he was able to decide to elect himself president without a proper vote.
The Economist's Democracy Index last year ranked Russia in the bottom third of the world's nations and questions have previously been raised by the White House over the fairness of its elections.
Asked about Clinton's impersonation of Putin, Peskov said: "American politicians unfortunately don’t get the full information about what is going on in Russia."
On Saturday, Russia will hold the largest Victory Day parade in post-Soviet history, marking 70 years since the end of World War II.
The newest Russian military equipment will be on display, including the RS-24 Yars weapons system that can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, according to the Moscow Times. The day marks Russia’s sacrifice in helping liberate Europe from the Nazis.
Despite this show of military might, as well as Putin's alleged intervention in the conflict in Ukraine, Peskov said that "Russia is not aggressive."
He said that just because Moscow "says 'no' to Washington, or 'no ' to Brussels, or 'no' to Paris, or 'no' to London, it is not aggression. We will continue to pursue our own interests but it has nothing to do with aggressiveness."
Peskov expressed anger at what he said were attempts by the U.S. to persuade European governments to boycott the Victory Parade.
"Sometimes we simply cannot understand why Washington is doing that," Peskov said. "This is what we cannot tolerate."
The sanctions imposed by the West over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea were "hurting Russia, but not to the extent that it would make Russia change it’s mind," he said.
Meanwhile, Peskov pointed to Russia’s strengthening economic ties with China, whose troops were due to take part in the Victory Day parade in Red Square for the first time Saturday.
Chinese President Xi Jìnpíng was scheduled to be in Moscow on Friday. Peskov also described China as "our very close partner."