Mitt Romney has kept a relatively low profile since he lost his run for the White House to President Obama. But on Friday the former Massachusetts governor felt compelled to criticize President Obama’s submissive relationship with Russia, claiming that President Vladimir Putin “has outperformed our president time and time again on the world stage.”
Romney spoke to NBC News’ Peter Alexander in an interview to air Friday evening, touching on a variety of topics in the run-up to release of Netflix’s new documentary “Mitt.” As the discussion turned to foreign policy, Alexander asked the former presidential hopeful how President Obama “has handled the situation in Russia, his interactions directly with Vladimir Putin?”
“Well, I think Putin has outperformed our president time and time again on the world stage,” Romney responded. “We are, I said this before, geopolitical adversaries — not enemies, but adversaries geopolitical — and Putin lines up with [Syrian President] Assad, and gave Assad the cover that he needed and won a diplomatic battle with regards to Syria.”
“He likewise keeps Edward Snowden as a bit of a stick in the eye at America,” he continued. “And I think most observers of the international political scene suggest that Russia has elevated itself in stature and America has been diminished.”
Since Putin regained the presidency from his deputy Dmitri Medvedev in 2012, he has flexed Russian muscles in a way not seen since the Cold War. In addition to undercutting U.S. policy in Syria and sheltering NSA leaker Edward Snowden from American espionage charges, Putin has sought to expand Russian power into large swathes of the former Soviet Union pressuring his neighbors to join a Russian-led Customs Union rather than the EU.
That push is behind the recent outburst of riots in Ukraine, a country straddling the East-West fault line. As Ukrainian citizens battle police for a chance to escape domination by their eastern neighbor, Russia’s foreign minister vowed earlier this week that his country would do its utmost to prevent a break-up and “stabilize the situation” — language some fear could presage a Russian intervention (RELATED: Ukrainian capital erupts in violence as Russian-backed president tightens grip [VIDEO]).
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