Obama: Putin Is Successful Because He Doesn't Go Around Announcing What He Is Going To Do

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At his final press conference, President Barack Obama responds to criticisms that he is not doing enough to deter Russian cyber attacks. He said that the goal of his administration has been to send a clear message to Vladimir Putin, and other global adversaries, that taking such actions against the U.S. will have consequences.

The president recalled that he publicly told President Putin to "cut it out" with respect to cyber attacks when they met at an economic meeting in China in September: "So in early September when I saw president Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out and there were going to be serious consequences if he didn't. And in fact we did not see further tampering of the election process."

"I know there have been folks out there that suggest somehow, if we went out there and made big announcements and thumped our chests about a bunch of stuff, that somehow that would potentially spook the Russians," Obama said.

He also said that responses that "do not create problems for us" are difficult to implement and are not always public. "There are times where the message will be directly received by the Russians, and not publicized," he said about American responses to Russia.

Obama also commented on Putin's thought process, saying: "I should point out, by the way, part of why the Russians have been effective on this is because they don't go around announcing what they're doing. It's not like Putin's gone around the world publicly saying: 'Look what we didn't. Wasn't that clever?' He denies it."


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia, or others, not to do this to us because we can do stuff to you.

But it is also important for us to do that in a thoughtful, methodical way. Some of it we do publicly. Some of it we will do in a way that they know, but not everybody will. And I know there have been folks out there that suggest somehow, if we went out there and made big announcements and thumped our chests about a bunch of stuff, that somehow that would potentially spook the Russians.

But keep in mind that we already have enormous numbers of sanctions against the Russians. The relationship between us and Russia has deteriorated, sadly, significantly over the last several years. And so, how we approach an appropriate response that increases costs for them for behavior like this in the future, but does not create problems for us, is something that's worth taking the time to think through and figure out.

And that's exactly what we've done.

So at a point in time where we've taken certain actions that we can divulge publicly we will do so. There are times where the message will be directly received by the Russians, and not publicized.

I should point out, by the way, part of why the Russians have been effective on this is because they don't go around announcing what they're doing.

It's not like Putin's gone around the world publicly saying: 'Look what we didn't. Wasn't that clever?'

He denies it. So the idea that somehow public shaming is going to be effective, I think, doesn't read the thought process in Russia very well.

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