"We haven't considered Hamas a terrorist organization. Today, we must recognize that Hamas has reached power in Palestine as a result of legitimate elections and we must respect the choice of the Palestinian people," he said.
An Israeli government source voiced surprise at Mr. Putin's comments, calling them a departure from a position taken by a Quartet of international negotiators on Middle East peace, to which Russia belongs along with the United States, European Union and the United Nations.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said in Jerusalem that no talks should be held with Hamas until it recognized the Jewish state's right to exist and "renounced terror."
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington that the Bush administration has "contacted the Russian government about what their intentions are."
"If there are any contacts between the Russian government and Hamas, we would expect that they would send that very clear message, both in public and private, that is contained in the Quartet statement," he said.
Clearly this man is not an ally.