President Barack Obama said Friday that Vladimir Putin’s recent military excursions into Ukraine may be the result of some “deeply held grievance” against the West for its supposed mistreatment of post-Soviet Union Russia.
The president made the comments to CBS News while discussing reports indicating a massive buildup of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border, perhaps signaling that the Kremlin has more plans for the embattled country.
Russian troops are along the border, Obama said, “under the guise of military exercises.”
“It may simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that they have additional plans,” he said.
CBS News’ Scott Pelley pressed Obama for his personal take on Putin and Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
“I think he’s been willing to show a deeply held grievance about what he considers to be the loss of the Soviet Union,” Obama said. “You would have thought that, after a couple of decades, that there’d be an awareness on the part of any Russian leader that the path forward is not to revert back to the kinds of practices that, you know, were so prevalent during the Cold War.”
The president continued, saying Putin must believe that the West has somehow “taken advantage” of post-Soviet Union Russia.
“He wants to, in some fashion, make up for that,” Obama said. “He may be entirely misreading the West. He’s certainly misreading American foreign policy. We have no interest in circling Russia and we have no interest in Ukraine beyond letting Ukrainian people make their own decisions about their own lives.”
The president did concede that Russia does have some economic interest in Ukraine and that Putin wouldn’t be wrong to maintain those interests.
“There’s a difference between that and sending in troops, and because you’re bigger and stronger, taking a piece of the country,” he said.
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