In March, Mitt Romney said Russia is “clearly” the nation’s “number one geo-political foe,” a comment that’s been widely ridiculed in a variety of circles. As Rachel noted last night, soon after Romney’s comment, Colin Powell said on MSNBC, “Come on, Mitt, think.”
But on the other side of the Atlantic, there’s apparently one person who was delighted by Romney’s rhetoric. His name is Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said [Tuesday] that Mitt Romney’s characterization of Moscow as the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe” has actually helped Russia.
The Russian leader said Romney’s comments strengthened his resolve to oppose NATO’s plan for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, a system Russia believes will degrade its nuclear deterrent. The U.S. insists the system is aimed at Iran, not Russia.
“I’m grateful to him (Romney) for formulating his stance so clearly because he has once again proven the correctness of our approach to missile defense problems,” Putin told reporters, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
In other words, Putin was looking for an excuse to be more obstinate on missile defense, and Romney, through his foreign policy clumsiness, gave him one. By popping off on a subject he didn’t understand, Romney inadvertently affected defense negotiations, at least at a superficial level.
President Obama told Steve Kroft yesterday that one of the things he’s learned is that “it’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts, and that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.”
This week is offering some rather dramatic evidence that it’s a lesson Romney hasn’t learned.