President Barack Obama on Tuesday said Mitt Romney was wrong in 2012 about the extent of Russia’s power in the world. Russia isn’t the United States’ “No. 1 geopolitical foe” but rather a “regional power,” he countered.
Holding a joint news conference with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Nuclear Security Conference at The Hague, Obama was asked by ABC’s Jonathan Karl whether Romney had a point given Russia’s recent invasion of the Ukrainian Crimea and their position on Syria’s civil war.
“The truth of the matter is, America’s got a whole lot of challenges. Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength, but out of weakness,” Obama said.
“The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bear these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more,” he added. “And so my response then continues to be what I believe today, which is Russia’s actions are a problem, they don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States.”
When Romney initially stated that Russia was the greatest geopolitical foe in 2012, Obama slammed the assertion.
“Gov. Romney, I’m glad you recognize al-Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what is the biggest geopolitical group facing America, you said Russia — not al-Qaeda. And the 1980’s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back — because the Cold War has been over for 20 years,” Obama said in 2012 during a presidential debate on foreign policy.
On Sunday, Romney again criticized Obama’s foreign policy toward Russia.
“There’s no question but that the president’s naiveté with regards to Russia, and his faulty judgment about Russia’s intentions and objectives, has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face,” Romney said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And unfortunately, not having anticipated Russia’s intentions, the president wasn’t able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent the kinds of circumstances that you’re seeing in the Ukraine.”