Putin ‘sees NATO, EU a threat,’ says Obama

Putin ‘sees NATO, EU a threat,’ says Obama

WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
Putin ‘sees NATO, EU a threat,’ says Obama

AFP photo

U.S. President Barack Obama said April 25 that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was trying to undermine European unity, which he sees as a threat.

Speaking to CBS News in an interview set to air on April 26, Obama said Europe’s migrant crisis was also a problem for the United States.

“But more importantly, more strategically, is the strain it’s putting on Europe’s politics, the way that it advances far-right nationalism, the degree to which it is encouraging a break-up of European unity, that in some cases, is being exploited by somebody like Mr. Putin,” he said.

Putin sees NATO, the European Union and transatlantic unity as a threat, Obama added.

“Now, I think he’s mistaken about that,” he said. 

“I’ve indicated to him that, in fact, a strong, unified Europe working with a strong, outward-looking Russia, that’s the right recipe.” 

“So far, he has not been entirely persuaded.” 

Relations between the U.S., the EU and NATO deterred since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, when NATO cut off all practical ties with Moscow in protest.

Relations worsened over Moscow’s air campaign in Syria and tensions have also flared in the past week after two incidents involving the U.S. military and Russian planes in the Baltic Sea.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Feb. 10 that the alliance increasing its presence in its eastern member states, which are alarmed by a more assertive Russia, sent a “clear signal” to any would-be aggressor.

Obama was speaking to CBS at the end of a trip to the Middle East and Europe, where he urged European leaders to show greater unity in the face of lingering economic crisis, an Islamist terror threat and the huge flow of migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere into the European Union.

He also urged Britain not to vote to leave the European Union in a referendum in June.

Obama and the leaders of Germany, Italy, Britain and France on Monday called on parties in the Syrian war to respect an agreement to cease hostilities and make peace talks work, the White House said in a statement. 

“They called on all parties to respect the cessation, ensure humanitarian access, and contribute to the success of the Geneva talks on political transition,” the White House said after a April 25 meeting attended by Obama, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

“They also called on those with influence on the parties to the conflict to press them to refrain from any actions that put the cessation and political talks at risk,” it said.