Daily Israel Report

Former Ambassador: Putin is Taking Obama Seriously

Former Israeli ambassador to Russia tells Arutz Sheva: Believe it or not, but Putin is taking Obama's threats seriously.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/6/2014, 3:44 AM

Obama and Putin (archive)
Obama and Putin (archive)
Reuters

Former Israeli ambassador to Russia, Zvi Magen, says that contrary to popular belief, Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking U.S. President Barack Obama seriously.

In a special interview with Arutz Sheva, Magen explained that Putin’s incursion into Ukraine was not done out of a sense of militancy but out of a sense of distress over the ouster of his close ally, Viktor Yanukovych. Putin, said Magen, views Ukraine as a very significant component of his empire, and as such, he is "fighting a losing war in full swing."

At the same time, the former ambassador said, Putin is taking the American threat of sanctions and boycotts very seriously, fearing that economic boycotts may lead Russia into an economic downfall.

"The Russians have taken everything into consideration and they are doing everything in their power to restore the status quo,” said Magen, adding, “It’s too early to assess, but I am guessing that Russia has no intention of heading into a complete crisis; rather, there are plans to conduct a controlled crisis, step by step, to make a move and see if they can then move backwards.”

As the crisis in Ukraine has deepened, Obama  has been criticized by Republicans who say he is “all talk and no action” on Russia.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took things further on Monday, telling the AIPAC conference that events in Ukraine are directly related to Obama's “feckless” policies.

While a military move is not an option for the U.S. at present, he opined, “the most powerful nation in the world should have many options – including economic actions." He added, with emotion, "This is the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America's strength anymore!”

In the interview with Arutz Sheva, former ambassador Magen also referred to Israel’s silence and avoidance of expressing a position on the Ukraine crisis. This policy, he said, is correct given Israel's friendship with both Russia and Ukraine.

"We have no interest in being a party to this dispute. We are not supposed to try to educate other countries,” he said. “When things do not concern us directly, it is better that we keep a low profile in terms of statements. In the past when we made sloppy public statements, it came back to hurt us.”

Magen further stated that he believes Israel can continue this policy in the long term, so long as the situation does not deteriorate further.