Obama: Russia is a ‘regional power.’ Nuke in Manhattan is a bigger threat.

During a joint news conference in the Netherlands, President Obama responded to a reporter's question, saying that Russia does not top the list of security threats to the United States. (WhiteHouse.gov)

 

At a news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, President Obama was asked if he agreed with Mitt Romney's assessment during the 2012 presidential campaign that Russia is America's biggest geopolitical foe.

Instead, Obama poked at Russia, downplaying its influence on the world stage.

"Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors not out of strength but out of weakness," Obama said.

Russia's actions are a problem, but they're not what the U.S. worries about the most.

"They don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States," Obama said. "I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security of the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan."

Obama and Rutte were taking questions at the end of the Nuclear Security Summit.

Russia has had a strong influence on Ukraine for decades, Obama said, just as the United States has pull over Canada and Mexico, but "we don't feel the need to invade them," he said.

Obama continually tried to minimize Russia's worldwide influence, telling reporters he thinks the country is more isolated now than it has been in the past.

Obama said he is "less interested in the motivation" of Putin than in the facts and principles that the U.S. and international community are trying to uphold.

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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