While the suggestion of electoral connivance between Obama and Medvedev has made little impression in Russia, which has just been through its own carefully orchestrated presidential campaign, Romney's comments hit like a bomb.
"It came as a shock. You just don't expect to hear that from someone who's running for US president," says Masha Lipman, editor of the Moscow Carnegie Center's Pro et Contra journal. "I thought an enemy was a country or force that seeks to kill Americans or destroy the US, not a country like Russia that has some civilized differences, which it expresses in forums like the [United Nations] Security Council."
Attitudes toward the US have fluctuated among Russians since the USSR collapsed more than 20 years ago. During the 1990s, the Kremlin sought to align itself with Western policies, but over the past decade, under now president-elect Vladimir Putin, it has carved out a more independent stance, often irritating Washington with uncooperative acts, such as two UN Security Council vetoes of resolutions aimed at international intervention in Syria's crisis.