Putin Has Always Been a Threat and Ruthless: Obama

Putin Has Always Been a Threat and Ruthless: Obama Vladimir Putin and former President Barack Obama are seated at a table during the obama administration Vladimir Putin and former President Barack Obama (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

By Peter Malbin | Wednesday, 13 April 2022 02:09 PM

Former President Barack Obama said Russian President Vladimir Putin has always been a threat on the world stage. He described him as ruthless against his own people and others.

"He has always been somebody who's wrapped up in this twisted, distorted sense of grievance and ethnic nationalism. That part of Putin, I think has always been there," Obama told Al Roker on NBC's "Today."

Obama said the current military action in Ukraine represents a new approach from Putin.

"What we have seen with the invasion of Ukraine is him being reckless in a way that you might not have anticipated eight, 10 years ago, but the danger was always there," he said.

Obama was president when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Roker asked the former president if there was a part of him that wonders if he handled the matter properly.

"The situations in each of these circumstances are different, but I think that what we're seeing consistently is a reminder of why it's so important for us to not take our own democracy for granted, why it's so important for us to stand for and align ourselves with those who believe in freedom and independence, and I think that the current administration's doing what it needs to be doing," Obama said.

The Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia when it invaded Crimea in March 2014 and subsequently supported pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. Although the measures had an impact on the Russian economy, they were viewed as woefully inadequate by some Republican lawmakers in Congress, The Atlantic observed.

Russia is moving its forces to the eastern part of the country amid reports it possibly used chemical weapons on civilians in the city of Mariupol. As hundreds of thousands of civilians escape for safety elsewhere, satellite images show large columns of Russian vehicles heading toward the Donbas in preparation for battle, the BBC reported.

President Joe Biden has referred to Russian atrocities in Ukraine as genocide.

Putin, meanwhile, said he believed the invasion was necessary to "help" people.

"It's clear that we didn't have a choice; it was the right decision," Putin said Wednesday about the invasion, BBC reported. "The goals are perfectly clear; they are noble."

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