Former president Bill Clinton called the notion of blaming the US for the war in Ukraine “the biggest load of bull.”
Clinton talked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deadly two-month-long siege of Ukraine during the annual Casey Shearer Memorial Lecture event at Brown University on Tuesday.
“It is not true that we did anything to isolate, humiliate or ignore Putin,” Clinton said. “That’s the biggest load of bull you’ll ever hear.”
“I do not believe that there was anything we could have done to prevent this. Ukraine needs to prevail.”
Russia’s invasion of its neighbor on Feb. 24 upended the post-Cold War security order. Putin, long bothered by NATO’s expansion to eastern Europe, says the operation seeks the “demilitarization” of Ukraine and ensure Russia’s own security. One of Putin’s demands has been that Ukraine drop its bid to join the western NATO alliance.
Clinton detailed how his administration started the process of admitting the Baltic states – Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia – into NATO in the late 1990s.
“The idea that we were trying to jam Russia or isolate them … that’s just not true,” he said.
The former president said he met with Russia’s leaders 23 times throughout his eight-year presidency, including both former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Putin.
“I made the argument to Yelstin, which was confirmed later by Putin, that there was nothing preventing them from joining NATO if they thought their biggest security threats were going to come from non-state actors.”
Clinton recalled his visit to Russia just a year before Yeltsin died, telling the then-president of his concerns about Putin’s disbelief in democracy.
“Putin did a pretty good job in his first term, he was exactly what Yeltsin wanted. He protected Yeltsin’s family, he was much stronger and aggressive, and healthier,” Clinton said.
“[Putin] never gave much indication that he was going to basically put kleptocracy on steroids or get rid of democracy.”
With NYP wires