US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladmir Putin both spoke at the United Nations annual meeting of the General Assembly on Monday, underscoring dangerous conflicts growing between the two superpowers.
Obama was critical of Russia, blaming them specifically for involvement in the Ukraine, invading Crimea, their growing involvement in Syria, and the refugee crisis.
“We see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law. We see an erosion of the democratic principles and human rights that are fundamental to this institution’s mission.”
“Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria. When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs,” Obama said. America and Russia are both involved in the civil war in Syria, with Putin intervening to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and American policy supporting the rebels who seek to depose him.
“Dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world,” Mr. Obama said.
“Those currents include major powers that want to ignore international rules and impose order through force of military power. In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent civilians because the alternative is surely worse.”
In turn, Putin blamed the United States when he spoke, without specifically naming the Western power.
“The export of revolutions, this time so-called democratic ones, (has caused) violence and social disaster.”
“I cannot help asking those who have forced this situation, do you realize now what you have done? Policies based on self-conceit and belief in one’s exceptionality and impunity have never been abandoned.”
“We think it’s an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face,” Mr. Putin said. “We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and Kurdish militia are truly fighting the ‘Islamic State’ and other terrorist organizations in Syria,” Putin said.
President Obama was also critical of China’s expansionist policies in the South China Sea and criticized Iran.
“Chanting ‘Death to America’ does not create jobs, or make Iran more secure,” Mr. Obama said.