Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that President Obama was suffering from “some kind of mental aberration” for saying during a U.N. speech last month that Russia posed a global threat.
“It’s sad to hear President Obama say in an address at the U.N. that the threats and challenges facing humanity are, in this particular order: the Ebola virus, the Russian Federation, and only then the Islamic State,” Medvedev said during an interview that aired Wednesday on CNBC. “I don’t want to dignify it with a response. It’s sad. It’s like some kind of mental aberration.”
Medvedev offered his opinion of Obama’s mental state in response to a question about whether it would be possible to “reset” the relationship between Washington and Moscow after a months-long standoff over Ukraine, during which the United States has sanctioned Russia’s financial, defense, and oil and gas sectors, and Russia has banned all produce, meat, fish and dairy imports from the United States and the European Union.
The idea harks back to 2009, when Medvedev and the Obama administration both expressed a desire to “press the reset button” on relations between Russia and the United States, which had grown tense during the administrations of George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin. (The photo op didn’t go so well.)
Doing so now, in the wake of sanctions, would be “absolutely impossible,” Medvedev told CNBC.
“Let’s be clear: We did not come up with these sanctions, our international partners did,” he said. “What kind of reset is possible in these circumstances? It’s imperative to leave all of that behind, get back to normalcy, perhaps go back to square one — and only then talk about future relations.”
Moscow is hoping that the West rolls back the sanctions against Russia, which were implemented in stages, starting when Russia moved to annex Ukraine’s autonomous Crimean Peninsula in March. The countries have engaged in near tit-for-tat sanctions and countermeasures since.
European officials have said that the European Union will review its sanctions against Russia by late October. The United States has offered no similar timeline, but Obama said last month that sanctions could be rolled back if Russia lives up to the terms of the Ukrainian cease-fire agreement.
In his Sept. 24 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama said Russia’s “aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambition.” He later said in the speech that Russia’s actions in Ukraine “challenge” the post-World War II order of the United Nations.