On Thursday, during his speech in Berlin, US President Barack Obama called Russia a “military superpower” and noted that his stance on Russia has been constant since the first day of his presidency. However, in March 2014, Obama described Russia as no more than a “regional power,” whose actions in Ukraine are an expression of weakness rather than strength. Apparently, such a discrepancy of the Obama’s words just mirrors the essence of the failed US policy in the context of ‘restrictions’ on Russia in the period of his presidency.
“With respect to Russia, my principal approach to Russia has been constant since I first came into office. Russia is an important country. It is a military superpower. It has influence in the region and it has influence around the world. And in order for us to solve many big problems around the world, it is in our interest to work with Russia and obtain their cooperation,” Obama said, speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
He also noted that “we should all hope for a Russia that is successful, where its people are employed and the economy is growing, and they are having good relationships with their neighbors.”
Despite such statements, two years ago, Obama talked completely opposite things about Russia.
“Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength but out of weakness,” he said during a press conference with Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte in March, 2014. “The fact that Russia felt it had to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more,” Obama added.
“Russian actions are a problem. They do not pose the number one security threat to the United States. I remain much more concerned about the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan,” he concluded.
In 2008, when Obama had just come into the office, the US was an undisputed leader and Russia was considered as a ‘second-class’ country, including in military terms. In 2014, when a ‘flywheel’ of a new Cold War had started to spin, the US President bluntly called Russia a “regional power.”
However, in 2016, when Obama is leaving the presidency, it became clear that Russia has strengthened its military capabilities, and the Obama’s strategy in Ukraine has not led to stated goals: Donbass and Crimea have not been returned to Kiev, Russian economy have not been ruined, and destabilization of the political regime in Russia has not been reached. The US strategy in Syria has also failed – an issue on overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by military means is not already topical. Meanwhile, Russia has raised the level of its influence on the process in the region, demonstrating that it is able to achieve both military and political goals.
As a result, in 2014-2016, when the conflict escalated into a new wave of the Cold War, neither diplomatic, nor economic, nor subversive, and nor military means helped the US, as the world’s hegemon, to defeat Russia.
In recent years, Obama himself repeatedly skeptically spoke of Russia’s foreign policy and the country’s possibilities. However, ultimately, before leaving the presidency, he decided to play a role of the ‘Captain Obvious’, admitting that despite a significant reduction of the Russian military power after the collapse of the Soviet Union, even a part of the restored military potential is quite enough to allow Russia to retain its status of a “military superpower.”