During a press conference in The Netherlands with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he’s more worried about a nuclear bomb going off in Manhattan than Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine.
Obama’s comment came in response to a question from ABC’s Jon Karl who asked if former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney “had a point” when he referred to Russia during the 2012 campaign as America’s top geopolitical foe.
“Russia’s actions are a problem,” Obama said. “They don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”
Obama went on to take a swipe at Russian President Vladimir Putin, casting Russia as a “regional power” that was threatening its immediate neighbours out of “weakness,” not strength. He compared it to the U.S.’s influence over its own immediate neighbours and noted America “generally doesn’t need to invade them” to have good relations with bordering countries.
Obama also defended his administration’s approach to the crisis in Ukraine and its response to Russia, which has included multiple rounds of sanctions. He said he is “concerned” about the possibility of Russian encroachment into eastern Ukraine, and he continued to threaten additional sanctions if Russia continued to escalate the situation.
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