President Barack Obama said in a television interview Wednesday that Russia realises the U.S. military is “significantly superior” and does not want a military confrontation with the U.S.
Asked in an interview by CBS News’ Major Garrett about the provocative act of a Russian fighter plane “buzzing” a U.S. Navy ship in the Black Sea over the weekend, Obama said the world “understands the superiority of our military.”
“And the Russians understand that. They’re not interested in any kind of military confrontation with us, understanding that our conventional forces are significantly superior to the Russians,'” Obama said.
“We don’t need a war. What we do need is a recognition that countries like Ukraine can have relationships with a whole range of their neighbours. And it is not up to anybody, whether it’s Russia or the United States or anybody else, to make decisions for them.”
Obama said Russia’s government and President Vladimir Putin were behind pro-Russian separatists who have taken over government buildings in several Ukrainian cities, continuing the ramp-up of the U.S.’s rhetoric against Russia. Obama accused the Russian government of continually “not respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
He said Russia must recognise Ukraine as a sovereign state able to make its own decisions. Obama stopped short of promising further sanctions. But he promised “consequences” and said if Russia continues on its current course, Putin and Russia will be punished over the long-term.
“Mr. Putin’s decisions are not just bad for Ukraine — over the long term, they’re going to be bad for Russia,” Obama said.
Obama’s comments came the day before a four-party, diplomatic meeting in Geneva among the U.S., European Union, Russia, and Ukraine designed to explore diplomatic solutions to the Ukrainian crisis. Putin reiterated on Thursday that Russia has the right to protect Russian-speaking citizens in eastern Ukraine if necessary.
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