With the United States and its allies ramping up the pressure on Russia over its annexation of Crimea, President Barack Obama spoke yesterday in Brussels at an annual summit between the United States and the European Union.
Obama stated that the United States and other nations have an interest “in a strong and responsible Russia, not a weak one,” but he castigated Russia’s actions in Crimea and rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rationales for Russian annexation of the territory.
In particular, Obama rejected comparisons to NATO’s intervention in Kosovo or to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. While noting his own opposition to the Iraq War, Obama emphasized that “even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system.” The United States “did not grab [Iraq’s] resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign state.”