Obama: 'Russia doesn't make anything'
US President calls for perspective on Russia as he warns Putin's actions will cause more harm than good over long term
President Barack Obama has hit back at criticism that Vladimir Putin has the upper hand in the Ukraine crisis, arguing that Russia is a nation that "doesn't make anything".
Mr Obama downplayed Russia's position in world politics and warned that Mr Putin's policies will cause more harm than good over the long term.
Mr Obama also signalled that the Russian economy is facing serious challenges going forward citing a shrinking population and lack of opportunities.
"I do think it's important to keep perspective: Russia doesn't make anything," he told the Economist.
"Immigrants aren't rushing to Moscow for opportunities. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking."
Russia has some of the world's largest oil and gas reserves and provides about one third of the European Union's gas and oil- of which approximately 40 per cent runs through Ukraine.
Discussing his relationship with Mr Putin, the US president said his administration felt "let down" by the Russian leader, whose approval rating has soared to a six-year high following the annexation of Crimea, but insisted that his actions will prove costly.
Video: Obama hits back at Putin
"I think President Putin represents a deep strain in Russia that is probably harmful to Russia over the long term, but in the short term can be politically popular at home and very troublesome abroad," he added.
Mr Obama also discussed US relations with China, which recently signed a $400 billion deal to buy gas from Russia, describing tensions between the two superpowers as "manageable" as long as Washington handles Beijing "firmly".
"One thing I will say about China, though, is you also have to be pretty firm with them, because they will push as hard as they can until they meet resistance.
"They're not sentimental, and they are not interested in abstractions. And so simple appeals to international norms are insufficient," he added.
- 1 Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
- 2 Britain First 'acting like Ukip henchmen' by invading meeting of activists in revenge for pub protest against Nigel Farage
- 3 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 4 Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival streaming service criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
- 5 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
iJobs Money & Business
£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...
Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...