President Barack Obama has spoken freely about his opinions on the Russian President Vladimir Putin and has stated that he believes that the Russian leader made a “strategic mistake” when he annexed Crimea, in a move that he described as “not so smart”.
Speaking during an interview with NPR, President Obama said that anyone thinking that President Putin could be considered to be a “genius” had been proven wrong by Russia’s economic crisis which has come this year.
International sanctions had made Russia’s economy particularly vulnerable to changes in oil price, Mr Obama said.
During the interview which covered a wide range of subjects to be discussed before he took off on his holidays in Hawaii President Obama also refused to rule out opening a US embassy in Iran soon.
“I never say never but I think these things have to go in steps” he told NPR’s Steve Inskeep during the interview which took place in the Oval Office.
According to the BBC, Obama criticised his political opponents who claimed he had been outdone by Russia’s president.
“You’ll recall that three or four months ago, everybody in Washington was convinced that President Putin was a genius and he had outmanoeuvred all of us and he had bullied and strategised his way into expanding Russian power.
“Today, I’d sense that at least outside of Russia, maybe some people are thinking what Putin did wasn’t so smart.”
President Obama said that he believe that the sanctionsthat had been placed on Russia had made the Russian economy vulnerable to “inevitable” disruptions in oil price which, when they came, led to “enormous difficulties”.
“The big advantage we have with Russia is we’ve got a dynamic, vital economy, and they don’t,” he said. “They rely on oil. We rely on oil and iPads and movies and you name it.”
Since the sanctions have come in as a reaction to Russia’s part in the annexing of Ukraine the economy in the country has gone into free fall.
According to the BBC, the Russian currency has since lost half its value against the dollar and the economy has begun to contract.
Mr Obama also said that sending US troops to fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria would be counter-productive.
“If we do for others what they need to do for themselves – if we come in and send the Marines in to fight ISIL [IS], and the Iraqis have no skin in the game, then it’s not going to last,” he concluded.