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Putin Tells New Envoy U.S. Must Not Interfere

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, (left), U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft (center), and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a ceremony for the presentation of credentials by foreign ambassadors in Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin has told the new U.S. ambassador to Moscow that the United States should not interfere in Russia's affairs.

The warning came at a Kremlin ceremony on November 19 in which Putin received the credentials of new foreign envoys including U.S. Ambassador John Tefft.

Putin said, "We are ready for practical cooperation with our American partners in various fields, based on the principles of respect for each other's interests, equal rights and non-interference in internal affairs."

The remark echoed conditions Putin set out in a foreign policy decree at the start of his third term in 2012, and a similiar warning issued by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an address to Russian lawmakers earlier on November 19.

Tefft, 64, is a career diplomat who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania -- three ex-Soviet republics whose ties with Moscow are tense.

His posting starts at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are badly strained over the Ukraine crisis.

Tefft replaces Michael McFaul, who was ambassador from January 2012 until February 2014.

McFaul, the architect of U.S. President Barack Obama's first-term "reset," which improved ties with Moscow, swiftly became a prime target in a campaign of anti-Americanism that has marked Putin's current term.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP and TASS
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