CBS’ “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft told President Obama that Vladimir Putin is “challenging your leadership” in a preview of his interview with the president released on Friday.
Kroft said, “A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States– America leads. We’re the indispensable nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.”
After Obama asked, “In what way?” Kroft cut in with, “Well, he’s moved troops into Syria, for one. He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II, bombing the people that we are supporting.”
Obama responded, “So that’s leading, Steve? The — so, let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support, and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time. Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together, by a thread, his sole ally. And in Ukraine–.”
Kroft again protested, “He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership–.”
Obama responded, “Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in, in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership.”
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