MOSCOW, December 29 (Sputnik) — The United States has used "strategic patience" to steadily apply the pressure of sanctions against the Russian economy as oil prices have plummeted in recent months, US President Barack Obama said on Monday.
"Part of our rationale in this process was that the only thing keeping that [Russian] economy afloat was the price of oil. And if, in fact, we were steady in applying sanction pressure, which we have been, that over time it would make the economy of Russia sufficiently vulnerable,” Obama said in an interview with the National Public Radio.
According to the president, the US policy toward Russia calculated that "if and when there were disruptions with respect to the price of oil,” Russia would have “enormous difficulty managing it.”
Earlier in the year, “everybody in Washington” was convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin had "outmaneuvered" the United States but the Russian president’s position does not appear as strong any more, Obama said.
"At least outside of Russia, maybe some people are thinking what Putin did wasn't so smart," Obama said, referring to Russia’s reunification with Crimea. The Crimean peninsula seceded from Ukraine and rejoined Russia in March after more than 96 percent of local voters backed the move in a referendum.
The US president stressed that Washington does not want an armed conflict with Russia, adding that the United States has no conventional military peer, though “obviously Russia is a significant nuclear power.”
The United States and a number of its allies have introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia, targeting its banking, energy and defense sectors, as well as certain individuals, over Russia's reunification with Crimea and Moscow’s alleged involvement in the armed conflict in Ukraine's south-east. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in Ukraine's internal affairs, deeming sanctions as counterproductive.