Obama: Putin Is "Misreading American Foreign Policy"

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SCOTT PELLEY: What is Vladimir Putin after?

BARACK OBAMA: Well, if you take him at his word --

PELLEY: Can you?

OBAMA: Well, on this, I think he's been willing to show a deeply held grievance about what he considers to be the loss of the Soviet Union. 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, but, in fact, to move forward with further integration with the world economy and to be a responsible international citizen. You know, he's said that he considers the breakup of the Soviet Union to be tragic. I think there's a strong sense of Russian nationalism and a sense that somehow the West has taken advantage of Russia in the past and that he wants to in some fashion, you know, reverse that or make up for that. What I have repeatedly said is that he may be entirely misreading the West. He’s certainly misreading American foreign policy. We have no interest encircling Russia and we have no interest in Ukraine beyond letting Ukrainian people make their own decisions about their own lives, and it is true that we reject the notion that there is a sphere of influence along the Russian border that then justifies Russia invading other countries. Certainly they're going to have influence because of trade and tradition and language and heritage with Ukraine and everybody acknowledges that. There’s a difference between that and sending in troops. And because you're bigger and stronger, taking a piece of the country, that is not how international law and international norms are observed in the 21st century.

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