President Obama addressed news that Russian President Vladimir Putin was sending Russian military advisers into Syria to bolster the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Obama explained during a town hall event with members of the military that he warned Putin years ago not to support the tyrannical dictator.
“I remember a conversation I had with Mr. Putin four or five years ago where I told him that was a mistake … he did not take my warnings and as a consequence things have gotten worse,” he said.
Obama said historically, Russia provided a lot of financial support to Assad and sold Syria weapons, even as the dictator continued to alienate his regime from the people.
“The bad news is that Russia continues to believe that Assad, who is their traditional partner, is somebody that is worthy of continuing support,” Obama said.
Obama acknowledged that Putin was now sending more military advisers to Assad as well as more military equipment.
“The strategy that they’re pursuing now by doubling down with Assad, I think is a big mistake,” he said. “You can’t continue to double down on a strategy that is doomed to failure.”
Obama said that the United States would continue talking with Russia to convince them that their actions were bad for Syria. He signaled that diplomacy was the primary vehicle for restoring order in Syria, encouraging the Russians to “get a little smarter.”
“They are threatened in may ways more than we are by ISIL. They’ve got a large Muslim populations that historically have caused a lot of problems inside of Russian,” he said.