March 18th, 2014
09:05 PM ET
8 months ago

Hillary Clinton: It’s up to Putin whether there’s 'another Cold War'

Montreal (CNN) - Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that the conflict between Russia and Western allies over Crimea is a "clash of values" and that it’s up to Russian President Vladimir Putin whether there's "another Cold War."

"I hope there is not another Cold War," Clinton said during the question and answer portion of an appearance in Montreal. "Obviously, nobody wants to see that. I think that is primarily up to Putin."

Clinton added that Putin's annexation of Crimea, a move that has rankled Western allies and led the United States to sanction some Russian leaders, is an effort by the Russian leader to "rewrite the boundaries of post-World War II Europe."

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Despite Western allies calling the annexation illegal – a charge Clinton echoed – Putin officially announced Russian control of Crimea on Tuesday after voters in that semi-autonomous territory approved a referendum on separating from Ukraine.

The United States, the European Union and Ukraine do not recognize the annexation, however, and relations between Russia and the United State have been damaged by the move.

Back at home, the issue has turned political, with Republican lawmakers questioning President Barack Obama's handling of Putin. Former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, in an op-ed published Tuesday, critiqued both Obama and Clinton for the current state of United States' foreign policy.

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During her remarks at a 4,300-person event hosted by the Board of Trade Metropolitan Montreal, Clinton worried that allowing Putin to get away with the annexation of Crimea could have repercussion in the region.

"If he is allowed to get away with that, I think you will see a lot of other countries either directly facing Russian aggression or suborned with their political system so that they are so intimidated that in effect they are transformed into vassals, not sovereign democracies," Clinton warned. "There is a lot at stake here."

Clinton said countries "need to get moving in protecting themselves against future intimidation" and gave a handful of recommendations on how to deal with Russian and Crimea.

This is not the first time Clinton has used tough rhetoric against Russia and Putin. The former secretary of state has mentioned the issue in most remarks since Russia first moved to control Crimea. And earlier this month, Clinton compared Putin's action in Crimea to those of Adolf Hitler's in the 1930s.

In the speech, she also offered a slight critique to her own country as well, stating that, "we have got to do a better job of supporting the government in Kiev."

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The former secretary of state also recommended more gas and energy independence in Europe as the way to give Western nations more flexibility with Russia.

Russian natural gas production makes up the bulk of consumption in Europe. According to a 2007 report by the European Commission, countries like Denmark, Estonia and Finland get 100% of their natural gas from Russia. Even Germany gets 36% of its natural gas from the Russians, according to the report.

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"The dependence of key European countries on Russian energy sources is what gives Russia the ability to intimidate," said Clinton, who used part of her remarks to push for more pipelines to Europe originating from countries other than Russia. The former secretary of state also applauded efforts for Poland to explore hydraulic fracturing.

"The Russians can only intimidate you if you are dependent on them," she concluded.

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In addition to talking about Russia and Ukraine, Clinton used most of her remarks to talk about women leadership and participation – topics she touches upon in most of her appearances.

Clinton made the argument that there are political implications for more women in the workplace and in politics, especially as women become the primary breadwinner in households. She also noted that despite advancements in women's rights since she became a public figure in the 1980s, "Women are still judged on different criteria [than men]."

The former first lady was also asked about paid maternity leave, something U.S. companies are not mandated to provide, unlike Canada and most developed countries. Clinton said "ultimately this needs to be a political agenda item that we keep hammering."

Organizers for the Montreal event said they first invited Clinton over a year ago, shortly after she left the State Department in January 2013.

Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the Board of Trade Metropolitan Montreal, said they invited Clinton because they wanted someone who could inspire the crowd and relate to issues of trade, commerce and foreign affairs. Leblanc said the first thing that drew the group to Clinton was "her stature."

In the past, the Canadian Trade group has hosted former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

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Leblanc told CNN that his group regularly has "former" officials speak to them. He called Clinton both a former and a "future" and an interview with CNN.

"The fact that she might be a future candidate for presidency is clearly of interest," said Leblanc. "We are very aware we rarely have someone who could be a future president."

Clinton was asked about her future plans – something that is becoming predictable and commonplace at all of her public appearances.

"I haven't made up my mind," she said, adding, though, that she feels "a deep sense of commitment to my country and its future."

And to the applause of a supportive Montreal crowd, Clinton said, "You all will be the first to know."

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Filed under: Canada • Hillary Clinton • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. wise guy

    Send Putin that picture, you might scare him that way, sorry Hillary, I'll still vote for you, what choice do we have really?

    March 19, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  2. danicalifornia

    Clinton = the worst secretary of state! Stop believing the propaganda pushed by the money hungry, power-grabbing, maniacal, narcissistic Clinton machine. Stop listening to the media who is pushing her. This country needs to be told the truth. No more freebies, no more PC bull, just the hard truth to get this country fiscally sound and back the the principles of our founding fathers. Stop listening to her. She is probably speaking to some stupid group that has paid her $$ to come and speak to them. She has no credibility.

    March 19, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    "Clinton made the argument that there are political implications for more women in the workplace and in politics, especially as women become the primary breadwinner in households."
    -------------------------------
    Judging from recent comments from a few female conservatives concerning the Lily Ledbetter Act, the War on Women is about to be ratcheted up a notch. It would seem that women are just simply inferior to men. They are not good negotiators, and that they need to stop whining about unfairness and accept their lot in life. It also seems that conservatives like packing themselves into boxes just to see how cleverly that they can escape. They usually don't.

    March 19, 2014 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  4. wise guy

    Like it or not, she is well versed in the goings on worldwide, more experience and integrity than any gop stooge. That's why they hate her, there will be no change in the gop tactics after election, same obstruction practices . With all that's going on in the world today, we simply can't sit around and do nothing because the gop won't do anything until their in the whitehouse, that could be decades. If they won't act, vote them out, their arguments for their policy proposals are all lies, easily disproved by facts and history.

    March 19, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  5. Mr. M

    Listening to the idiot partisans would be funny if not so pathetic. Partisans think that if not for "that other party" everything would be okay. It never dawns on them that neither party represents them. They've planted their flag and come Hell or high-water they'll go down with the ship before they would admit they've been duped.

    It's ludicrous to even think that just two political parties can represent 330,000,000 people. Instead of moronic partisans squawking about "eliminating the other parties influence," or eliminating them altogether, there should be a hundred different parties representing all the diverse peoples of this land.

    Instead we get morons, feed by a Corporate Owned News (CON) that perpetuates the illusion of a "democratic process," believing that if only their side wins everything will be okay.

    This is the dogma of tyranny. And the partisans are too stupid to see their own hypocrisy. There is no "inclusion" with a one-party-rule. That by definition is a dictatorship.

    It's sad to witness just easily so many people can be manipulated. I fear this will not bode well for us in the near future.

    March 19, 2014 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  6. rla

    perhaps if you had been good at your job this could have been avoided- sorry but you and your liberal friends really are living on another world!

    March 19, 2014 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
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