Former US President Barack Obama should start admitting critical errors in his administration’s Russian policy, including Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, a senior Ukrainian official said on Friday.
“Current Russian […] regime is a blatant reflection of a specific pre-war ‘Western policy' » She said Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office. « Maybe it’s time to start admitting critical mistakes instead of making new excuses? »
Podolyak’s comments are a reaction to former US President Barack Obama’s defense of his administration’s reaction to the annexation of Crimea in a interview on Cnn. Obama argued that the full-scale invasion launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin last February took place in a different context.
“Be myself but also [then-German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, to whom I give huge credit, had to involve many other Europeans kicking and screaming to impose the sanctions that we did and to prevent Putin from continuing through Donbass and the rest of Ukraine,” Obama said in the interview , which aired Thursday nights on the East Coast of the United States.
« Given both where Ukraine was at the time and where the European mentality was at the time, we held the line. »
Both the WE. and the European Union imposed sanctions on dozens of pro-Kremlin Russian and Ukrainian officials after Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. But they faced criticism first by analysts for failing to target Putin or his inner circle and later by scholars due to the overall ineffectiveness of the sanctions.
Obama, who famously launched a « Restoration of Russia » after taking office in 2009, he tried to restore relations between Washington and Moscow during his two terms.
While campaigning for re-election in 2012, the former president famously mocked his Republican opponent Mitt Romney for being out of touch with the new realities of American foreign policy after the former Massachusetts governor called Russia is the « number one geopolitical enemy » of the United States.
“When asked, ‘What is the greatest geopolitical threat to America,’ you answered ‘Russia.’ Not Al Qaeda; you said Russia”, Obama he said then in Romney. « And the 80s are now calling to demand a return on their foreign policy, because the Cold War has been over for 20 years. »
Obama doubled down in a lengthy interview with The Atlantic in 2016, during his last year in office, said Russia’s influence in Ukraine was inevitable « no matter what we did ».
« But this is an example of where we need to be very clear about what our main interests are and what we are willing to go to war about, » he added.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, some commentators have pointed out that the war could, in fact, have proved Romney right.
“The Ukraine of that time is not the Ukraine we are talking about today,” Obama said in this latest interview, arguing that the situation in and around Russia has changed since 2014.
« There’s a reason why there hasn’t been an armed invasion of Crimea: because Crimea was filled with a lot of Russian speakers and there was some sympathy for the idea of Russia representing its interests, » he added. .
« We challenged Putin with the tools we had at the time, given where Ukraine was at the time. »