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Russia Criticizes U.S. Diplomat's Democracy Remarks --> U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns' comments upset Moscow (epa) 30 December 2005 -- The Russian Foreign Ministry has responded sharply to comments by a top U.S. diplomat who reaffirmed Washington's commitment to help foster democracy in Russia and other ex-Soviet states.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said in a December speech that a policy goal next year is "to advance the U.S.-EU democracy agenda further east: in Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin responded by criticizing Burns for his "mentor" tone and saying his comments harmed constructive dialogue between the two nations.

Russia's relations with the West have been strained recently over what Moscow sees as Western encroachment on its traditional sphere of influence and what the West sees as Russia's aggressive attitude toward its ex-Soviet neighbors.

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