Russia’s ambassador to the United States this morning had a telling retort when asked about President Obama’s comments that Russia is a “regional power acting out of weakness.”
“If you consider Russia ‘a regional power,’” he said, “look at our region — it is from Europe to Asia.” President Vladimir Putin has talked up a Eurasian Union as his anti-Western alternative to the European Union, and close advisers to Putin believe in a vision for a unified Eurasian culture in opposition to the liberal West.
When ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked the ambassador whether Russia would consider pulling back from Crimea as a condition of a diplomatic solution, he wasn’t taken too seriously either: “What kind of ‘from Crimea’ are you talking about?” Ambassador Kislyak said. “We are talking about territory of Russian Federation [sic].”
Crimea, he said, is now part of Russia, because “there was an expressed will of people living in Crimea to become part of Russian Federation.”
He repeatedly assured Stephanopoulos that Russia has “no intent” to invade Eastern Ukraine, where Russia is massing troops nearby, but when pressed as to whether that was a promise they never would, he simply said, “We are not planning to.”