Obama: It's Not a 'Cold War Chessboard' with Putin
President Obama brushed off the current geopolitical crises as not being a "Cold War chessboard" when asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin's paws in each of them.
"With respect to Syria and the Ukraine, I do think it is worth noting that you have in this situation one country that has clearly been a client state of Russia, another whose government is currently -- been supported by Russia; where the people obviously have a very different view and vision for their country. And we’ve now seen a great deal of turmoil there that arose organically from within those countries," Obama said in response to a question at a press conference in Mexico.
"I don’t think there’s a competition between the United States and Russia. I think this is an expression of the hopes and aspirations of people inside of Syria and people inside of the Ukraine who recognize that basic freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, fair and free elections, the ability to run a business without paying a bribe, to not be discriminated against because of your religion or your beliefs -- that those are fundamental rights that everybody wants to enjoy," he continued.
Russia is the largest arms supplier to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow got Ukraine's corrupt government to renege on a pledge to draw closer to the EU with a multi-billion-dollar bribe.
"Now, Mr. Putin has a different view on many of those issues, and I don’t think that there’s any secret on that. And our approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia," Obama said. "Our goal is to make sure that the people of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves about their future, that the people of Syria are able to make decisions without having bombs going off and killing women and children, or chemical weapons, or towns being starved because a despot wants to cling to power."
"Those express our values and our national interests, and we will continue to express those national interests. There are times, I hope, where Russia will recognize that over the long term they should be on board with those values and interests as well. Right now, there are times where we have strong disagreements. And when I speak to Mr. Putin, I’m very candid about those disagreements, even as we will continue to pursue cooperation with Russia on areas where we had shared concerns."