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Obama: Putin Has Not Outmaneuvered West

FILE - President Barack Obama speaks during an interview at the White House.
FILE - President Barack Obama speaks during an interview at the White House.

U.S. President Barack Obama says Russia's economic troubles show Russian President Vladimir Putin has not managed to outmaneuver him or the United States.

In an interview broadcast by CNN Sunday, Obama rejected the notion that Putin is a "chess master" who has outmaneuvered the United States and the West in the current standoff over Ukraine.

Obama said Putin is facing "the collapse of his currency, a major financial crisis, and a huge economic contraction."

"That doesn't sound like somebody who has rolled me or the United States of America," said Obama.

Russia's money woes follow several rounds of sanctions the U.S. and EU imposed on Moscow following its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula earlier this year.

Putin has remained defiant, despite a looming recession triggered by falling oil prices and a 40 percent drop in the value of the ruble currency.

On Saturday, as his economic crisis deepened, Putin urged Russians to prepare "to undergo certain difficulties" in the days and months ahead. He said his country would not back down from "supporting compatriots" in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. His Foreign Ministry has promised to retaliate against the Western sanctions.

The Kyiv government, the European Union and the United States accuse Moscow of stoking violence in Ukraine and arming pro-Russian separatists seeking autonomy near the Russian border.

Moscow denies arming rebels and insists it annexed Crimea in March only after a referendum showed most Crimeans wanting to become a part of Russia.

Kyiv and the West have condemned the plebiscite as illegitimate and a violation of international law.

Some material for this report came from AFP and Reuters.

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