McCain's Rhetoric Dismissed

A senior Foreign Ministry official on Tuesday shrugged off anti-Russian remarks by U.S. presidential candidate John McCain and said Moscow could handle any unwanted turn in relations with Washington.

"Let him first become the U.S. president, and then we will listen attentively to him," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told a news briefing.

Republican McCain, who will fight Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the November election, has angered Russia by suggesting that it should be excluded from the Group of Eight leading nations for falling short of its high democracy standards.

Russian officials say McCain's suggestions that Washington should adopt a tougher stance against Russia, criticized by Obama, are part of his campaigning style and will inevitably be adjusted to match the reality should he win the polls.

But the Foreign Ministry official said Moscow was ready for any turn of events. "We are ready for any development of relations," he said. "In the long run, we can afford not having any relations with some of our partners, if they wish so. The only thing we want is the U.S. electorate to bear responsibility for its choice."

He said Moscow would be patient with Washington.

"Everything is fine until we are told how to behave, who to be friends with, who to fight against, who must be hated, who you must bed down with and who must be shown the door," he said.