Obama Plays Down Russia: Sees More Substance in China

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 7, 2014 9:13 AM EST

The U.S. President Barack Obama has dismissed Russia as a nation not making anything. In an interview to the Economist magazine, the US President spoke about Russia and China in detail, reported Moscow Times.  

Reuters
Pope Francis (R) and U.S. President Barack Obama react as they exchange gifts during a private audience at the Vatican City March 27, 2014.

In the interview, Obama downplayed Moscow's role in the world and described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a leader causing some short-term trouble for the sake of political gains. The President said such tactics would boomerang on Russia, in the long run. Obama does not see any reason for keeping a perspective on Russia since it does not make anything.

Obama cited some social indicators to show stagnation Russia is facing. Immigrants are not rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity; life expectancy of Russian males is around 60 years. The Russian population is shrinking, Obama remarked.

Nuclear Weapons

In the interview, Obama discussed the contours of U.S. foreign policy in Asia that had factored in the growth of China as an economic and military power. But recent incidents overshadowed that pivot.

Obama recently wrote to Russian president Putin, to look into the issue of Russia's violation of the 1988 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty that seeks to eliminate ground-launched cruise missiles. On regional challenges with Russia, Obama said they should not escalate and nuclear weapons should not come to the centre stage in any foreign policy discussions.

China

Speaking about China, Obama said the West needs to be firm with China as Beijing has the habit of pushing too much. But Obama added that the tensions with China were manageable.

Obama observed that the Chinese are not sentimental people and they do not care for abstractions. So appeals to the international norms will be inadequate in dealing with China. However, Obama is optimistic that trade tensions with China will ease as China shifts focus from low-cost manufacturing to high-value production needing intellectual property protection.

Obama wanted mechanisms to be in place that can get tough with China when it breaches international norms and also guide it towards the benefits of adhering to such norms.

Obama is wrong

Meanwhile, Mark Adomanis, an expert on Russian affairs and blogger in Forbes magazine, challenged Obama's so called social indicators on Russia. He quipped that a powerful leader like Obama should have got his facts right, before giving the interview. 

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(Photo: Reuters / Gabriel Bouys)
Pope Francis (R) and U.S. President Barack Obama react as they exchange gifts during a private audience at the Vatican City March 27, 2014.
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