13:51 GMT +330 March 2017
Live
    President Barack Obama in the White House Press Briefing Room

    Fake News? Obama’s Russia Myths Debunked

    © AP Photo/ Andrew Harnik
    Politics
    Get short URL
    72751010714

    During his Friday news conference, US President Barack Obama spoke at length about Russia, making several statements that can hardly withstand even minimal fact-checking.

    "The Russians can't change us or significantly weaken us. They are a smaller country, they are a weaker country, their economy doesn't produce anything that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms," Obama assured the audience, while trying to convince the public that the only threat Russia posed to the United States was an ideological one.

    "Smaller" is a very broad classification, and it is unclear by what metric President Obama chose to assign that label. In terms of land mass, Russia is obviously not smaller. With a landmass of over 17 million square km, Russia is almost twice as large as the US, at under 10 million square km. In terms of population, the United States does have Russia beat: 325 million to 146 million people. However, Russia is still in the top-ten worldwide for population and it is difficult to imagine President Obama calling a country like Japan (127 million) or Mexico (122 million) "smaller."

    "Weaker" is likely a reference to Russian military strength. The Military Strength Index, created by Swiss multinational firm Credit Suisse, has the United States as the world’s mightiest military power, with a ranking of.94. Russia is in second with.87. However, this ranking has little practical meaning, since the two countries have the largest nuclear arsenals in the world, assuring mutual annihilation in the case of a nuclear military conflict as well as a likely end to the entire planet. 

    The third part of Obama’s claim is that the only valued Russian exports are hydrocarbons and weapons. Russia is indeed the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, and one of the world’s major oil producers. It is also the second largest arms exporter, after the United States.

    However, the myth of Russia producing only energy or raw materials is far from reality. And the US President should know this, since Washington relies on Russia in quite a few areas. For instance, after retiring its Space Shuttle program, NASA became dependent on Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, to send astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station (operated cooperatively by the US and Russia.) The Pentagon also depends on Russian RD-180 space engines to power rockets carrying American military satellites into orbit. The US still cannot produce heavy-lift orbital-launch rocket engines, despite multiple attempts to replace the sturdy Russian reliables with American-made analogs. 

    Russia is also one of the leading countries in building nuclear power plants around the world, one of the few countries with a massive civilian aircraft industry, and one of the global leaders in education, which every year attracts thousands of students to Russia. The list can go on and on, but how does that matter, if you have such a great talking point. 

    "Over a third of Republican voters approve of Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave," Obama opined during the conference, in reference to a poll in The Economist which put Republican approval of Putin at 37 percent. 

    Russian President Vladimir Putin was never the chief of the KGB. Putin was a member of the Soviet intelligence agency from 1975-1991, resigning when then-KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov was one of the key collaborators in the August coup-attempt to seize power from Russia’s first President, Mikhail Gorbachev. President Obama was likely thinking of the FSB, an organization which was the successor of the KGB, but actually created in 1995, several years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Former President of Russia Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin as the FSB head in 1998, a position that Putin would hold for just over a year before he was promoted to Prime Minister. Among US agencies, FSB corresponds most closely to the FBI. In no sense was Vladimir Putin ever the chief of the KGB.

    The highest-ranking official in the United States should have known all this. After all, Obama claims he does not miss security briefings. But, somehow, this is not the first time that President Obama has ignored facts to make a great speech. In May 2014 he called Russia "a regional power" that does not play a major role on the international scene.

    "Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbours, not out of strength but out of weakness," the President said.

    The following year the Russian air force began operations in Syria. In the week of December 12 2016, the largest Syrian city of Aleppo was fully recaptured by Russian and Syrian forces. Meanwhile, in an infamous congressional hearing in September 2015, reporting on how a $250 million program was spent on creating a ‘moderate opposition’ within Syria, General Lloyd Austin, commander of US Central Command, admitted only "four or five" US-trained Syrians were still in the fight against Daesh. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, said it was clear that the United States was "losing" against Daesh. This instead of four or five thousand the US was hoping to arm and unleash on Syria. But it's Russia who is weak, right Mr. President?

    Related:

    Reports Claiming Putin Interfered in US Election 'Funny Nonsense' - Kremlin
    Obama Regrets Relations With Russia Deteriorated While in Office
    Obama ‘Complicating’ Relations with Russia With F-18 Fighter Deal With Finland
    Low Oil Prices Triggered Russian Economy Slowdown – Skolkovo President
    Russia's FSB Prevents Series of Terror Attacks in Moscow Planned by Daesh
    Tags:
    US-Russia relations, press conference, Obama administration, FSB, KGB, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, Russia, United States
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik
    • Сomment
    • Igor R
      Kenya should feel embarassed, I am sure they have better people than that bot.
    • avatar
      nonyank
      Whenever O-Dumb Dumb lies he gets another grey hair....looks like he's been working overtime!
    • Mikhas
      If Russia is "minor" and "weaker" why then is Obongo and his white owners so obsessed with her? who does this parrots speech writer think he's kidding? If she can dictate it's will over US elections ? Americans must be confused, or they can't wait to see the back of the degenerate sodomite and his wookie in drag.
    • avatar
      jas
      I wasn't going to dignify Obama's silliness, but his lies should be revealed. RT.com has an interesting technology update that reviews what is newer tech is happening in Russia. Carbon fiber. I think the owrld's only carbon fiber plant is there. Of course, they surpassed the US in grain production this year. Russia is also a big player in chickpea (garbonzo) export. The US doesn't even have chickpea production, but is struggling to implement it now. MOX fuel is another innovation Russia is working on. The Russians are quite advanced regarding nuclear fuel and plant production. www.rt.com/news/188332-mox-nuclear-fuel-production

      I suspect Russia is working on semiconductor production and producing "clean" routers and OS software, mobile phones, encryption, etc. Putin was talking about going to Linux long ago and I suspect he has done a lot of it.

      Obama's people don't prepare him very well and they make him look bad.
    • avatar
      michael
      ignorance - exceptional at that! :) I bet that there are many afro-americans who are disgusted at his iniquities and the joke that he makes of being a so-called educated american.
    • Adrienne Adonis
      Most Americans don't believe what Obama said in his speech. All of the Trump supporters already know of the fake news that comes out of the White House. So no one pays attention. The only people listening to Obama are the low information voters which are mostly democrats in low income neighborhoods and progressive socialists liberals who hate America ........ This speech was smoke and mirrors and filled with lies. The only agency that can follow the emails trail would be the NSA not the CIA. ...... And notice you don't hear anything from the NSA's mouth. That's because there is nothing to expose.........WIKILEAKS produced these thousands of emails and it was given to them from a gentleman in the Democratic Party that was sick of the corruption in the Hillary campaign and who was a Bernie supporter. The emails released showed just how corrupt the DNC , the Hillary Foundation and the corrupt FAKE NEWS main stream media is. Notice how disgustingly low all of their ratings are. That's because the American people know they are corrupt. So Obama is saying that the emails were hacked and swayed public opinion. So are we suppose to vote for Hillary after reading her emails and realizing how corrupt her organization is ? I don't think so. Not one democrat has said that the emails were fraudulent. They acknowledge they were authentic which then reflects complete corruption on the democratic side. They are mad and besides themselves because they lost. They are trying to come up with reasons why they lost. They can't accept the fact that the American people thinks their ideology sucks and no one accepts it except the sick leftist weirdos.
    • avatar
      Darrell Rin reply toAdrienne Adonis(Show commentHide comment)
      Adrienne Adonis, through the election the media made a spectacle of themselves. Pushing their pick as hard as they could, tying anything and anyone against her to Russia Trump included. Then they would take a handful of statements made by trump, twist them and play them over and over for hours.

      In the end Trump one. Now the media is desperate to redeem themselves by ramping up mere of the same even though the campaign is over.

      Now that the new president elect is planning to do a major policy shift, in the mibble east and Russia, the lame duck is trying to make that as hard as possible for him by ramping up attacks on Russia and Assad in Syria as well as trying to shame Putin an Russia by saying they have evidence of hacking as each attack is doubted, they ramp it up even more this time putting it on Putin and Trump.

      They have no proof and even if they could prove it came from Russian government this only proves espionage, virtually every nation does that. Wikileaks deals in leaks not hacks so that still does not prove it.

      They are working on new bills to make the policie changes Trunp plans even harder to do. None of this will stop him from doing what he wants to do, they are making the government, media and the nation in general look like a bunch of asses that's all. Sorry if I ramble but I've seen this get so bad and unjust over the last couple days that I can't help but do it.
    • taka2net
      it is strange of japanese like me to say this but,to be honest,probably russia would have practiced cyber-attack,but in comparison with Major medias like new york times or Washington post,influence russia affected to on election has little impact.more than that,at present, real problem is special operation a part of american establishment like former president obama are prosecuting for the purpose of triggering deputy's rebellion against next president.to former president obama.you must not attribute negative result for you to others. reflect on your past conduct because you are not a child, are you?
    • avatar
      copius
      Birth certificate issues makes a fake president.
      Fake news comes from fake president.
      Impeach the fake president.
      Deny him the rights of retirement for the gradually destruction of a great nation.
    • KnightRdr877
      The impeachment process at this late date is senseless. Waste of time and money. Get Trump in there, and then he can work Obama over on treason and other things, and hopefully make him pay for all those lengthy, expensive vacations he took playing golf.
    • avatar
      double bonus
      ["The Russians can't change us or significantly weaken us. They are a smaller country, they are a weaker country, their economy doesn't produce anything
      that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms," Obama assured the audience, while trying to convince the public that the only threat Russia posed
      to the United States was an ideological one.]

      Perhaps Russia DOES produce many things that Americans would want to buy, but they just don't know about them, because Russia is still a bit remote and cut-off from the Mainstream US Consumer Markets? It is difficult to tell without having enough information about what Russia actually does produce.

      ["Smaller" is a very broad classification, and it is unclear by what metric President Obama chose to assign that label.]

      Obama was talking about the Russian Economy being smaller and weaker than the US Economy. Given the Strategic ICBM issue, it has no application to "military strength".

      However, it is not necessarily correct. If you take a fractional approach, like comparing 80/50 to 16/10; yes the numerator 80 is greater than the numerator 16, but the value of the fractions themselves are equal. So, on a Revenue - Costs [or Income - Expenses] idea, yes maybe Revenues or Incomes are greater in the US; but if Costs and Expenses are also lower in Russia; then perhaps the difference may not be all that much greater.

      If the costs or expenses or valuations in Russia are lower than those in the US; for equivalent products or companies; then perhaps Russia is not that much smaller as many people in the USA might think.
    • avatar
      rmukarutabana
      Ha! So now all that can be hoped for is that Russia will not “significantly weaken us” – only a bit…
    • taka2net
      he is truely Spoiled brat.i do not believe that he makes excuse like that despite major medias had supported her over and over.it is not too much to say that he who suffered humiliating defeat was not only a bad loser but also child.stop your excuse already!stupid brat.although i always had thought about that obama is truly awkward.he was truly awkward.what child like him was president is nothing but american tragedy .you obama is just deplorable. your excuse like child is just unfair.
    • taka2net
      obama had pretended to be saint.but eventually he did not hide his real nature. after all even cia simply was nothing but a Bureaucratic organization to brainwash president.
    • avatar
      tobi.gelando
      Obonga the little boy has lost from the first day until the last day in office !!! and now he is going back to no where and tell how weak, smaller, dumb the person is witch has beat him wen ever he like to do so!!!
      Obonga the looser kid without brains and manner !!!
    • avatar
      maxxus
      Totally shameless. This ventriloquist's dummy will say anything his employers ask him to say. Looking stupid, being laughed at, going down in history as a big zero doesn't seem to matter to him.
    • support
      As promised earlier, here is the formal professional and enforceable code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists (founded in 1909). This code was formulated in 1926.

      www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

      If Facebook can satisfy this remit, more power to them. I predict that they will not even give this formulation a shot though: it is too much like honest work. :>p
    • avatar
      Crowbar
      He screwed up on his speech as it sounds nothing like Russia what he is describing. They are a lot like us in making things. I thing the speech writer was probably looking up Canada instead as there isn't much there.Visiting years back it was like going back in time to the pioneer days ehh. That is the only thing I think he could have been speaking of ,as Russia is known for great thinks but oil ??? oil yes but so much more. He defiantly was speaking of Canada as we only get some oil and inferior maple syrup sold as store brand. But that is about all they make that I can think of as we get much more foods and items from Mexico like hot sauce,food,much more but have you ever seen a Canadian Restaurant??? I don't think our neighbor to the north has much culture of their own, Mexico has much more culture and influence in the world. I've seen made in Russia on many items here but never a made in Canada item but the cheap syrup in stores.He should have known he wasn't describing Russia as they make many export items and is a industrial nation like us.He might have just been making up flat out lies as very possible but it sounds like Canada he was describing as nothing much ever happens there ,you never hear that name but maybe every 5-10 years ehh. Probably lies and MSM or fake news from MSM, but the speech writer may have googled the wrong country as he didn't describe Russia or even close.
    • avatar
      FightForTruth
      Mr. Neel, Goliath was bigger and stronger. Start reading about the USS Donald Cook and an unarmed SU-24, back in 2014.
    • avatar
      edover3
      Not only is obummer an ignoramus, but he's a jerk.
    Show new comments (0)