Obama, in 2015 State of the Union, says crisis has passed and takes credit: Washington Post 1/21/15

OBAMA STATE OF UNION 2015

Judge for yourself. We think it couldn’t have done much better, except possibly for a few Machiavellian struts on fighting terrorism. But hey, if he needs that!

Politics
Obama, in 2015 State of the Union, says crisis has passed and takes credit

WASHINGTON POST
Here are the highlights from President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech, including zingers on climate change and calls for tax reform.
By David Nakamura January 21 at 12:17 AM
President Obama, who took office six years ago amid a historic recession and two U.S. wars, declared unequivocally Tuesday that the nation had clawed its way out of those dire straits, praising Americans for their resilience but also pointedly taking credit for leading the way.
“America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed,” Obama said in his sixth State of the Union address to the nation and a joint session of Congress in the House chamber.
After years of fighting with Republicans over where to take the country, Obama delivered an hour-long defense of his policies that at times sounded like a victory lap. He asserted that the brightening economic picture — including accelerating job growth, more people with health insurance and lower gas prices — had proved that he was right, and his adversaries misguided, all along.
The president had been cautious over the past two years not to gloat over news of fitful economic growth, mindful that the economy remained tenuous and public confidence uneasy. But with the jobless rate well below 6 percent, the stock market nearing record highs and his job-approval ratings rebounding, Obama on Tuesday night dropped his veneer of reserve and appeared to delight in having proved his critics wrong.
“At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious, that we would crush jobs and explode deficits,” he said. “Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health-care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years.”
State of the Union 2015

View Photos
President Obama’s address focused on issues facing the middle class
“So the verdict is clear,” Obama said.
At times Tuesday, Obama chided Republicans to help improve Washington’s political discourse. He harked back to the themes of national unity that helped him get elected in the first place in 2008 and called for more bipartisan cooperation on key issues.
But in doing so, Obama also served to remind the GOP of the reasons their relationship is so fraught — pausing at one point from his prepared text to deliver a spontaneous, and quite partisan, barb. When Republicans jokingly applauded after Obama noted that he had run his last campaign, the president quipped: “I know because I won both of them.”
Obama took the spotlight in front of Vice President Biden and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) intent on proving that he would remain relevant in the final quarter of his presidency as the race to replace him next year begins.
Just two months after Democrats suffered a severe blow in the midterm elections, when voters handed control of both chambers to the GOP for the first time during his tenure, Obama’s speech came amid warnings from Republicans to avoid divisive rhetoric and policies.
“Tonight isn’t about the president’s legacy. It’s about the people’s priorities,” Boehner said in a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday. “Making the government bigger isn’t going to help the middle class. More growth and more opportunity will help the middle class, and those are the Republican priorities.”
But Obama had told allies that he would not kowtow to GOP demands despite the party’s new majorities. The president announced early in his speech that he would focus less on the usual laundry list of new proposals — the White House had revealed most of them ahead of time — and instead focus on the “values at stake” for the American people moving forward.
VIEW GRAPHIC
The Washington Post looks back at some of the top issues of 2014.
He framed portions of his address around a letter he received from a woman in Minneapolis named Rebekah Erler, who said that she and her husband struggled to pay bills during the recession shortly after they were married and had a son.
“We are a strong, tightknit family who has made it through some very, very hard times,” Obama said, quoting a letter from Erler, whom he visited during a trip to the Midwest last summer. She was among the guests in first lady Michelle Obama’s box.
The president said Erler’s story was a metaphor for the nation’s. “It’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger,” Obama said. “Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We have laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write.”
In the wake of the GOP rout in the midterms, the president responded by announcing a series of aggressive executive actions, including measures toprotect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, to work toward reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and to strike a climate agreement with China.
The moves angered Republicans, who challenged the president to heed the message of voters.
Instead, the White House continued its strategy into the new year, rolling out the major proposals for the next year in a presidential tour ahead of the State of the Union address. Obama laid out proposals to revamp the tax code by raising taxes and fees on the wealthiest Americans and largest financial institutions — and using the money to pay for free tuition for two years of community college and for a $500 tax credit for married couples in which both spouses have jobs.
Though the White House knew the ideas have a slim chance of being approved by lawmakers, the point was to start a debate on Obama’s terms. And the president and his advisers were determined to begin to frame his legacy as having delivered on his promise to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.
On foreign policy, Obama sought to build on the idea, first enunciated during a lengthy speech at West Point last spring, of a “smarter kind of American leadership” in which the United States balances military intervention with diplomacy and coalition-building.
Obama has made the case in recent weeks, as he marked the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, that the nation is safer after more than a decade of combat abroad — even though he authorized renewed U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria to combat the Islamic State militant group.
American leadership “is stopping ISIL’s advance,” Obama said, using an acronym for the group. But such a declaration seemed premature, set against images Tuesday of two orange-clad Japanese hostages kneeling in the desert before a black-robed militant.
Ahead of the speech, cable networks showed footage of U.S. Navy warships stationed in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, where the government was in danger of collapsing and the U.S. Embassy was potentially at risk, providing stark reminders about the threats to American values around the world.
In addition to the annual State of the Union traditions — such as Obama’s lunch with television news anchors at the White House — presidential aides noted that Obama spoke Tuesday with French President François Hollande about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris two weeks ago.
“The State of the Union & the State of the World are far from alignment,” Ian Bremmer, president of the risk analysis firm Eurasia Group, observed on Twitter.
But Obama was determined to project an optimistic view of the nation’s future, and he maintained faith that the country could rise above its divisions. He alluded to his own diverse upbringing in Hawaii and Chicago and cited his keynote address as an Illinois state senator at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which launched him on the national political radar as a bright young prospect for higher office.
“A better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine,” Obama said Tuesday. “A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.”
The president acknowledged that he had heard the political pundits declare since he took office six years ago that he had failed to make good on his vision at a time when “our politics seems more divided than ever. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws — of which there are many — but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naive.”
To the contrary, Obama insisted, as he pledged to keep working to change Washington, even as he was, in many ways, declaring victory over his rivals.
“I want this chamber, I want this city, to reflect the truth,” he said, “that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort.”

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Obama, in 2015 State of the Union, says crisis has passed and takes credit
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Here are the highlights from President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech, including zingers on climate change and calls for tax reform.
By David Nakamura January 21 at 12:17 AM
President Obama, who took office six years ago amid a historic recession and two U.S. wars, declared unequivocally Tuesday that the nation had clawed its way out of those dire straits, praising Americans for their resilience but also pointedly taking credit for leading the way.

“America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed,” Obama said in his sixth State of the Union address to the nation and a joint session of Congress in the House chamber.

After years of fighting with Republicans over where to take the country, Obama delivered an hour-long defense of his policies that at times sounded like a victory lap. He asserted that the brightening economic picture — including accelerating job growth, more people with health insurance and lower gas prices — had proved that he was right, and his adversaries misguided, all along.

The president had been cautious over the past two years not to gloat over news of fitful economic growth, mindful that the economy remained tenuous and public confidence uneasy. But with the jobless rate well below 6 percent, the stock market nearing record highs and his job-approval ratings rebounding, Obama on Tuesday night dropped his veneer of reserve and appeared to delight in having proved his critics wrong.

“At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious, that we would crush jobs and explode deficits,” he said. “Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health-care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years.”

State of the Union 2015
View Photos President Obama’s address focused on issues facing the middle class
“So the verdict is clear,” Obama said.

At times Tuesday, Obama chided Republicans to help improve Washington’s political discourse. He harked back to the themes of national unity that helped him get elected in the first place in 2008 and called for more bipartisan cooperation on key issues.

But in doing so, Obama also served to remind the GOP of the reasons their relationship is so fraught — pausing at one point from his prepared text to deliver a spontaneous, and quite partisan, barb. When Republicans jokingly applauded after Obama noted that he had run his last campaign, the president quipped: “I know because I won both of them.”
Obama took the spotlight in front of Vice President Biden and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) intent on proving that he would remain relevant in the final quarter of his presidency as the race to replace him next year begins.

Just two months after Democrats suffered a severe blow in the midterm elections, when voters handed control of both chambers to the GOP for the first time during his tenure, Obama’s speech came amid warnings from Republicans to avoid divisive rhetoric and policies.

“Tonight isn’t about the president’s legacy. It’s about the people’s priorities,” Boehner said in a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday. “Making the government bigger isn’t going to help the middle class. More growth and more opportunity will help the middle class, and those are the Republican priorities.”

But Obama had told allies that he would not kowtow to GOP demands despite the party’s new majorities. The president announced early in his speech that he would focus less on the usual laundry list of new proposals — the White House had revealed most of them ahead of time — and instead focus on the “values at stake” for the American people moving forward.

VIEW GRAPHIC
The Washington Post looks back at some of the top issues of 2014.
He framed portions of his address around a letter he received from a woman in Minneapolis named Rebekah Erler, who said that she and her husband struggled to pay bills during the recession shortly after they were married and had a son.

“We are a strong, tightknit family who has made it through some very, very hard times,” Obama said, quoting a letter from Erler, whom he visited during a trip to the Midwest last summer. She was among the guests in first lady Michelle Obama’s box.

The president said Erler’s story was a metaphor for the nation’s. “It’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger,” Obama said. “Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We have laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write.”

In the wake of the GOP rout in the midterms, the president responded by announcing a series of aggressive executive actions, including measures to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, to work toward reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and to strike a climate agreement with China.
The moves angered Republicans, who challenged the president to heed the message of voters.

Instead, the White House continued its strategy into the new year, rolling out the major proposals for the next year in a presidential tour ahead of the State of the Union address. Obama laid out proposals to revamp the tax code by raising taxes and fees on the wealthiest Americans and largest financial institutions — and using the money to pay for free tuition for two years of community college and for a $500 tax credit for married couples in which both spouses have jobs.

Though the White House knew the ideas have a slim chance of being approved by lawmakers, the point was to start a debate on Obama’s terms. And the president and his advisers were determined to begin to frame his legacy as having delivered on his promise to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.

On foreign policy, Obama sought to build on the idea, first enunciated during a lengthy speech at West Point last spring, of a “smarter kind of American leadership” in which the United States balances military intervention with diplomacy and coalition-building.

Obama has made the case in recent weeks, as he marked the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, that the nation is safer after more than a decade of combat abroad — even though he authorized renewed U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria to combat the Islamic State militant group.

American leadership “is stopping ISIL’s advance,” Obama said, using an acronym for the group. But such a declaration seemed premature, set against images Tuesday of two orange-clad Japanese hostages kneeling in the desert before a black-robed militant.

Ahead of the speech, cable networks showed footage of U.S. Navy warships stationed in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, where the government was in danger of collapsing and the U.S. Embassy was potentially at risk, providing stark reminders about the threats to American values around the world.

In addition to the annual State of the Union traditions — such as Obama’s lunch with television news anchors at the White House — presidential aides noted that Obama spoke Tuesday with French President François Hollande about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris two weeks ago.
“The State of the Union & the State of the World are far from alignment,” Ian Bremmer, president of the risk analysis firm Eurasia Group, observed on Twitter.

But Obama was determined to project an optimistic view of the nation’s future, and he maintained faith that the country could rise above its divisions. He alluded to his own diverse upbringing in Hawaii and Chicago and cited his keynote address as an Illinois state senator at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which launched him on the national political radar as a bright young prospect for higher office.

“A better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine,” Obama said Tuesday. “A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.”

The president acknowledged that he had heard the political pundits declare since he took office six years ago that he had failed to make good on his vision at a time when “our politics seems more divided than ever. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws — of which there are many — but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naive.”

To the contrary, Obama insisted, as he pledged to keep working to change Washington, even as he was, in many ways, declaring victory over his rivals.

“I want this chamber, I want this city, to reflect the truth,” he said, “that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort.”

House votes to block Obama’s immigration actions — but exposes new GOP divisions

Republicans Immigration

Blog Editor’s note: What they don’t stress is that regardless of the GOP internal disputes, this bill will be vetoed and never see the light of day. Your tax dollars at work.

By Ed O’Keefe January 14 at 12:24 PM

The Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed legislation in a 236-191 vote Wednesday to overturn President Obama’s immigration actions and remove protections for immigrants brought illegally to the country as children. (AP)
This item has been updated.

House Republicans voted Wednesday to undo years of President Obama’s immigration policies, launching a fresh attack on his executive actions as part of a plan to renew funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

But in doing so, Republicans exposed fresh rifts in their expanded ranks as more than two dozen members, mostly from suburban districts in swing states, voted against plans to end a program granting temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of “dreamers” — or children brought to the country illegally by their parents who have served as the emotional centerpiece of the years-long debate.

House approval of the spending bill is just the opening act in a debate expected to stretch into late February, when homeland security expires. Legal challenges to Obama’s immigration orders, led by Republican state attorneys general, are underway. A senior GOP lawmaker suggested Wednesday that House and Senate leaders might also file suit.

The bill passed 236 to 191 with the support of two moderate Democrats. But 10 Republicans voted against the final bill. Earlier, 26 Republicans — including several new members from suburban districts around Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami and Philadelphia — joined Democrats in voting against a proposal to end Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), a veteran Miami Republican who was among those to vote against the bill and the DACA amendment, said that his party won’t be able to settle the immigration fight until it negotiates a bipartisan compromise with Obama.

“Regardless of what happens this week, this month, on this issue, it will not make the issue itself go away,” he said.

But Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) said he was encouraged by the strong support the bill received from fellow Republicans. He was lead author of an amendment that would effectively invalidate the executive actions taken by Obama in November and his policy instructing federal immigration officers to focus their efforts on deporting illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds. The amendment passed with GOP support.
“It was a strong vote. I think it sends a message to the Senate as it goes forward. And we’re optimistic about it,” he said.

In the wake of terrorist attacks in France last week, Republicans have faced criticism from Obama and congressional Democrats for delaying swift passage of new security funding. Some party leaders and operatives also worry that the aggressive nature of the bill will once again spoil GOP attempts to appeal to Hispanic and Asian voters in the 2016 president election. But GOP congressional leaders have said that the legislation is designed only to respond to Obama’s “executive overreach.”

“We do not take this action lightly, but there is simply no alternative,” Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said ahead of the vote as he recounted the 22 times he said Obama has raised doubts about his ability to change immigration policy through presidential powers. “Enough is enough,” he added later.

The White House denounced the House vote, saying Republicans were putting homeland security funding, training and long-range planning at risk. Obama’s top domestic policy adviser, Cecilia Muñoz, reiterated Obama’s threatened veto.

The House GOP “is interested in debating immigration but only interested in debating it if they undo the most significant and constructive actions that have taken place in many years,” she said in a conference call with reporters. Republicans are doing nothing on immigration that would “move the country forward.”

Gil Kerlikowske, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said Obama’s executive actions are aimed at allowing the department to focus resources on deporting illegal immigrants who have committed felonies or have terrorist ties, rather than those who are living in the country illegally but do not break other laws.

“Prioritization is critical for any law enforcement agency,” he said.

While 218 Republicans voted for the amendment ending DACA, the “no” votes came from newly-elected Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.) from the Chicago suburbs; Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.) from the Las Vegas suburbs; Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) from the Philadelphia suburbs; Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who represents a Miami-area district; Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who won her election by fewer than 200 votes; and Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) from an Upstate New York district that has switched parties several times in recent years.

THE CHALLENGE OF ‘THE PATH SOCIETY’ MUST IDEALLY PROVIDE IT CITIZENS

if they are not to, in effect, turn on it by being forced onto a path that undermines the social structure and ends up costing the society far more than if they did Did the Right Thing. The speaker is Dr. Arthur Lerman, a contributor to this blog,. The occasion was the recent International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation’s 1st Annual International Conference on Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding, New York, U.S.A., October 1, 2014.

The theme of this conference is: “The Advantages of Ethnic & Religious Identity in Conflict Mediation and Peacebuilding”. AYN RAND this isn’t and simply watch to see some powerful arguments for society buying into the taking of collective responsibility. A new social contract, or return to an older one. WATCH THIS!

You- Tube glitch: scroll down email link to photo of Dr. Lerman at bottom. Then click on that for his provocative words.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xtGFtOhsvg&index=17&list=PLYE8rrwZqMsfgEQsdmtL56UotY436VZM7

A deal with Castro, for a post-Castro future: Reuter’s

Originally posted on fshiels:

A deal with Castro, for a post-Castro future

 December 21  
 Critics of President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba insist it will deliver big rewards to the island’s military-led government, which controls as much as 80 percent of the economy.They are almost certainly correct.

The bigger question, though, is whether Obama’s initiatives can position the United States to more effectively influence events in Cuba on the day the country is…

View original 356 more words

A deal with Castro, for a post-Castro future: Reuter’s

A deal with Castro, for a post-Castro future

 December 21  
 Critics of President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba insist it will deliver big rewards to the island’s military-led government, which controls as much as 80 percent of the economy.

They are almost certainly correct.

The bigger question, though, is whether Obama’s initiatives can position the United States to more effectively influence events in Cuba on the day the country is no longer run by someone named Castro.

If the overarching goal of the old U.S. policy was to precipitate a collapse of the Communist government, Obama’s new approach reflects a conclusion that such instability is no longer in the best interests of the United States.

With the announcement last week, Washington acknowledges that, like Havana, it wants a managed, orderly transition to a post-Castro future. What that future will look like is the game going forward.

Fidel Castro has been noticeably absent this week during a historic break in hostilities between Cuba and the United States. But he remains on the minds of many Cubans. (Reuters)

“Do we want a hard landing or a soft landing?” Arturo Valenzuela, who served as assistant secretary of state for Latin America during Obama’s first term, asked in an interview. “It’s not in our interest nor in the interest of the Cuban people to see a total collapse.”

Raúl Castro, 83, has repeatedly said he will step down from the presidency in 2018. There has been speculation that he might leave early, while he’s still in relatively good health. Among his possible successors are Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel, 54.

In an address to Cuba’s parliament Saturday, Castro set April 2016 as the date for a new Communist Party Congress — an event that has served in the past as the occasion for reform announcements and leadership changes. The last one, in 2011, was the first of its kind in 14 years.

In the audience was 21-year-old engineering student Elián González, who as a child survived the wreck of a boat headed to the United States and became the object of a drawn-out custody battle that eventually saw him return to Cuba. There, too, were the long-imprisoned, lionized intelligence agents known as the “Cuban 5,” the last three of whom were freed in the deal with Obama.

Fidel Castro, 88 and ailing, was not there.

In his speech, Raúl Castro reiterated a willingness to talk about a broad range of issues with Washington but said that Cuba’s one-party state and its socialist principles were not up for discussion.

Russia identifies NATO as its biggest military threat: (from al Jazeera /America)

RUSSIA NATO THREAT

So what to do about this?
Russia identifies NATO as its biggest military threat

INTERNATIONALALEXEI DRUZHININ / RIA NOVOSTI / POOL / REUTERS
Russia identifies NATO as its biggest military threat
Aiming a barb at NATO, Putin’s new military doctrine says Russia could use precision weapons as ‘strategic deterrent’
December 26, 2014 3:20PM ET
Russia identified NATO as the nation’s No. 1 military threat and raised the possibility of a broader use of precision conventional weapons to deter foreign aggression under a new military doctrine signed by President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

NATO flatly denied it was a threat to Russia and accused Russia of undermining European security.

The new doctrine, which comes amid tensions over Ukraine, reflects the Kremlin’s readiness to take a stronger posture in response to what it sees as the U.S.-led efforts to isolate and weaken Russia.

The paper maintains the provisions of the previous, 2010 edition of the military doctrine regarding the use of nuclear weapons.

It says Russia could use nuclear weapons in retaliation for the use of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction against the country or its allies, and also in the case of aggression involving conventional weapons that “threatens the very existence” of the Russian state.

For the first time, the new doctrine says Russia could use precision weapons “as part of strategic deterrent measures,” without spelling out when and how Moscow could resort to them.

Among other provisions, the paper mentions the need to protect Russia’s interests in the Arctic, where the global competition for oil and other natural resources has been heating up as the Arctic ice melts.

Russia has relied heavily on its nuclear deterrent and lagged far behind the U.S. and its NATO allies in the development of precision conventional weapons. However, it has recently sped up its military modernization, buying large numbers of new weapons and boosting military drills.

NATO has said that a sharp rise in the number of Russian air patrols over the Baltics has put civilian flights at risk.

Earlier this month, Russia flexed its muscle by airlifting state-of-the art Iskander missiles to its westernmost point, Kaliningrad, a Russian oblast that borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania. The missiles were pulled back to their home base after the drills, but the deployment clearly served as a demonstration of the military’s readiness to quickly raise the ante in case of crisis.

Russia has threatened earlier that it could permanently station the Iskander missiles, which can hit targets up to about 300 miles away with high precision, in retaliation to U.S.-led NATO missile defense plans.

On Friday, the military successfully test-fired the RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk launchpad in northwestern Russia.

The 29-page doctrine is a stand-alone document outlining the top threats to Russia’s security and possible responses. The current edition is the third since Putin was first elected in 2000.

The doctrine placed “a buildup of NATO military potential and its empowerment with global functions implemented in violation of international law, the expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure to the Russian borders” on top of military threats to Russia.

It stressed that that the deployment of foreign military forces on the territory of Russia’s neighbors could be used for “political and military pressure.”

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu responded by saying in a statement that the alliance “poses no threat to Russia or to any nation.”

“Any steps taken by NATO to ensure the security of its members are clearly defensive in nature, proportionate and in compliance with international law,” she said. “In fact, it is Russia’s actions, including currently in Ukraine, which are breaking international law and undermining European security.”

Russia’s relations with the West have plummeted to their lowest point since the Cold War, and NATO cut off ties with Moscow after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March. Ukraine and the West also have accused Moscow of fueling a pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine with troops and weapons. The Kremlin has denied those accusations.

“NATO will continue to seek a constructive relationship with Russia, as we have done for more than two decades,” Lungescu said. “But that is only possible with a Russia that abides by international law and principles — including the right of nations to choose their future freely.”

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who had been critical of Putin in the past, but who has strongly backed the Kremlin over its spat with the West, said Friday that Russia’s actions were a response to U.S. and NATO moves.

“I think the president is right to a large extent when he draws attention to a particular responsibility of the United States,” he said during a public event in Moscow.

The U.S. and the European Union have slapped sanctions against Moscow, which have deepened Russia’s economic woes and contributed to a sharp devaluation of the ruble, which lost about half of its value this year.

The economic crisis could challenge Russia’s ambitious weapons modernization program, but so far the Kremlin has shown no intention of scaling it back.

The program envisages the deployment of new nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, the construction of nuclear submarines and a sweeping modernization of Russia’s conventional arsenals.

Russia has been particularly concerned about the so-called Prompt Global Strike program under development in the U.S., which would be capable of striking targets anywhere in the world in as little as an hour with deadly precision.

The new doctrine mentioned the U.S. program as a major destabilizing factor along with NATO missile defense plans.

Russian officials have said that Moscow was working on a response to the new U.S. weapons, but have released no details.

Associated Press

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