- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2014

President Obama — apparently stinging at recent media buzz that he’s seemed weak on the international stage on the Ukraine matter — took a stab at President Putin, saying the Russian leader isn’t really that big a player in the world anyway.

“I do think it’s important to keep perspective,” Mr. Obama said to the Economist, during an interview in which he tried to play down Russia’s role on the world stage and suggest that Mr. Putin’s aggression into Ukraine will only bring on more negatives than positives for the country.

“Russia doesn’t make anything,” Mr. Obama went on. “Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow for opportunities. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking.”

Russia does supply considerable energy to Europe.

As The Independent reported, Russia contains some of the world’s largest reserves of oil and natural gas and provides about a third of the energy products to the European Union — 40 percent of which flow through Ukraine. China, too, just signed a $400 billion deal to buy gas from Russia.

Mr. Obama went on to say that he felt “let down” by Mr. Putin, The Independent reported.

“I think President Putin represents a deep strain in Russia that is probably harmful to Russia over the long term,” Mr. Obama said. “But in the short term, [it] can be politically popular at home and very troublesome abroad.”

Mr. Obama has been tainted in recent weeks by poor poll numbers on his handling of foreign affairs, as well as criticisms from political pundits that his policies are showing the White House as weak on the world stage. At the same time, Mr. Putin’s favorability factor has risen among the Russian people considerably.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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