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  • Q The common denominator in the strife in Ukraine and Syria is the support that those

  • two governments get from Russia, and I’m wondering, sir, if you believe that President

  • Putin bears some responsibility for the intransigence of those two regimes. And to some degree,

  • has this gone beyond just those two countries, and has it become a tug of war between two

  • world powers?

  • PRESIDENT OBAMA: …With respect to Syria and the Ukraine, I do think it is worth noting

  • that you have in this situation one country that has clearly been a client state of Russia,

  • another whose government is currently -- been supported by Russia; where the people obviously

  • have a very different view and vision for their country. And weve now seen a great

  • deal of turmoil there that arose organically from within those countries.

  • I don’t think there’s a competition between the United States and Russia. I think this

  • is an expression of the hopes and aspirations of people inside of Syria and people inside

  • of the Ukraine who recognize that basic freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom of assembly,

  • fair and free elections, the ability to run a business without paying a bribe, to not

  • be discriminated against because of your religion or your beliefs -- that those are fundamental

  • rights that everybody wants to enjoy.

  • Now, Mr. Putin has a different view on many of those issues, and I don’t think that

  • there’s any secret on that. And our approach as the United States is not to see these as

  • some Cold War chessboard in which were in competition with Russia. Our goal is to

  • make sure that the people of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves about their

  • future, that the people of Syria are able to make decisions without having bombs going

  • off and killing women and children, or chemical weapons, or towns being starved because a

  • despot wants to cling to power.

  • Those express our values and our national interests, and we will continue to express

  • those national interests. There are times, I hope, where Russia will recognize that over

  • the long term they should be on board with those values and interests as well. Right

  • now, there are times where we have strong disagreements. And when I speak to Mr. Putin,

  • I’m very candid about those disagreements, even as we will continue to pursue cooperation

  • with Russia on areas where we had shared concerns.

  • But I want to emphasize this: The situation that happened in Ukraine has to do with whether

  • or not the people of Ukraine can determine their own destiny. And my government and Vice

  • President Biden, and I personally, have expressed to President Yanukovych the need for him to

  • recognize the spirit of the Ukrainian people and work with that, as opposed to trying to

  • repress it. And so well continue to stand on the side of the people.

  • My hope is, at this point, that a truce may hold, but Stephen is exactly right -- ultimately,

  • the government is responsible for making sure that we shift towards some sort of unity government,

  • even if it’s temporary, that allows us to move to fair and free elections so that the

  • will of the Ukrainian people can be rightly expressed without the kinds of chaos weve

  • seen on the streets and without the bloodshed that all of us I think strongly condemn.

Q The common denominator in the strife in Ukraine and Syria is the support that those

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