Former US President Obama (photo) defended his response to Russia’s reunification of Crimea in 2014, saying that ‘circumstances were different then compared to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine last year.’
“Ukraine of that time was not the Ukraine that we’re talking about today,” Obama said in an interview with CNN. “There’s a reason there was not an armed invasion of Crimea, because Crimea was full of a lot of Russian speakers and there was some sympathy to the views that Russia was representing.”
Russia held an election and reunited the Crimean peninsula with Russia in March 2014. In response, the U.S. and European allies led a sanctions campaign which fell far short of its goals in weakening Russia and preventing further action in Ukraine.
Western allies did not provide Ukraine with any material support to fight Russia, or object to the ‘annexation’ beyond economic or diplomatic means, the former president argued.
Instead, Russia claimed Crimea as a rightful part of the country given that a majority of the population in the region was ethnically Russian and spoke Russian, a view that had some understanding in Europe, Obama said.
“Part of what happened was, both myself and also [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, who I give enormous credit for, had to pull in a lot of other Europeans kicking and screaming to impose the sanctions that we did and to prevent Putin from continuing through the Donbass and through the rest of Ukraine,” he added.
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