In Rome on Friday, President Obama said that Russia’s aggression can be attributed to a misreading of U.S. foreign policy. Russia shouldn’t feel the need to surround eastern Ukraine, he said, because the U.S. has ”no interest in encircling Russia and we have no interest in Ukraine beyond letting the Ukrainian people make their own decisions about their own lives.”
Troops are massing along the Ukrainian border under the guise of military exercises, Obama said, ”but these are not what Russia would normally be doing. . . . You know, it may simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine or it may be that they’ve got additional plans.”
In the interview with Scott Pelley of CBS News, he asked Russia to resolve and de-escalate the situation and “move back those troops and to begin negotiations directly with the Ukrainian government, as well as the international community.”
The president said the path forward is not to revert back to practices “so prevalent during the Cold War,” and recommended that Putin adopt a more progressive understanding of international relations, in line with the rest of the world.
“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, reverse that or make up for that,” he said.