Speaking at a private Democratic fundraiser in Chicago on Monday, Obama listed “the situation in Ukraine and Russia’s aggression” together with the ISIS threat and Ebola as reasons why Americans were “anxious,” he said, despite being better off “than we were when I took office.”
“Obama Compares Russia’s Policy With Ebola Threat, Islamic State,” ran the headline on a story by Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
When Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York last month, he referred to the same three issues – Russia, Ebola and ISIS – as causes of “a pervasive unease in our world.”
“As we gather here, an outbreak of Ebola overwhelms public health systems in West Africa, and threatens to move rapidly across borders. Russian aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambition,” he said. “The brutality of terrorists in Syria and Iraq forces us to look into the heart of darkness.”
The Russian foreign ministry called the U.N. speech “a set of cliches and propaganda slogans,” while Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his astonishment, telling reporters in New York, “We earned the second place among the threats to international peace and stability!”
Lavrov said Obama’s remarks did not reflect the perception of Russia in the modern world.
Earlier this week, NATO deputy secretary-general Alexander Vershbow in a speech in the United Arab Emirates said that while the challenges in Europe (Russia’s intervention in Ukraine) and the Middle East (ISIS) were different, “there is a common thread: In both cases, we are confronted by forces that reject our values and seek to overturn the international rules-based order.”
The remarks also drew sharp criticism from the Russian foreign ministry.
“The dull and trite craving to put an equation mark between Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the threat to international security emanated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a terrorist group, is little more than a primitive distortion of reality,” it said in a statement.
The ministry said Vershbow’s position “testifies once again to how addicted the U.S. and its allies are to the use of double standards, which serve their geopolitical goals. All of this clearly stands beyond the bounds of the rational.”