March 18th, 2014
09:05 PM ET
7 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. eisenstein

    Can anyone, anyone silence Hillary please.

    March 18, 2014 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  2. Winning

    I like how the Democrats are criticizing the enemy, while the right is criticizing the democrats. Makes it easy to tell who the enemy is.

    March 18, 2014 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  3. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Well said Madam President!

    March 18, 2014 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  4. Liz the First

    It's up to us, too. we don't need to go to war, hot or cold, over Crimea. it has always been Russian, the Crimean people want to be Russian. they voted to BE Russian. that should be good enough for us! let it go!

    March 18, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  5. Sergey

    Cold war – no.
    “Cool/Chill war” – Yes: some sanctions, some trade, some military boost
    Keep Russia on the leash, in 8-club. Without Russia / BRIC this club is nothing today.
    Penalty??? – For what? We won!!!
    We started the intrigue, and got at least half of Ukraine, eastern part, available (will be so) for our needs.
    We did "encroach" (as Putin suggests) closer to Russia.
    Yes, it would be better with Crimea
    (from there radars and flights can monitor up to Moscow and Ural Mountains
    and we would close Mediterranean to Russia's quick response fleet).
    But we could get it if weighted, re-elected president in Ukraine and slowly shift to EU/NATO.
    For some reasons we did not want long-term gamble, – maybe because EU and NATO fall apart on the way (in 4-5 years), or USD$ might crash... So, I think it was decided somehow to take what we can now.
    What we got:
    1) Eastern Ukraine, and closer to Russia
    2) We or Russia (does not matter) showed that Russia has teeth and smart think-tank,
    3) and, therefore, we need to strengthen our NATO (for cases of differences in understanding law)
    4) and this means we can keep printing money (money is "paper" and recognized by order / power)
    5) and it means strong dollar AND Euro
    6) and our economy will not crush in near 4-5 years.
    Who blames Putin, Obama or our think-tanks? Better revisit the results we've got and say "Thank you! America and EU"

    March 18, 2014 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  6. S. B. Stein

    There should have been the agreement brought up that Russia signed when Ukraine gave up the nuclear weapons. I don't think that it would have stopped Putin. Had George W. Bush done something when Russia invaded Georgia, then this might have been a little easier.

    March 18, 2014 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  7. king

    Putin looks like hes about to try and take over Ukraine next. Obama need to send the Atlantic fleet to that area and show Putin weve got Ukrainians back, and it will be consequences if they took over Ukraine. lesson folks, power is hard to relinquish, and when you taste it, you want more more more and more. Obama needs to know Putin has his country's support. and he has been given the green light by almost ninety percent of his country man to get back their soviet empire. if Obama doesn't do something now that has teeth. it will be too late and his legacy will be forever ruined, and the world will be out of wack. lesson Obama its not Putin you have to worry about, its the people of the soviet union, who is pushing him to take over these countries. their is nothing Putin can do to stop this. your numbers are down in the dumps, you are almost certain to lose your dem senate. look might as well go out with a bang and tackle this growing travesty. the american people might come around and see the significant of this move. send the Atlantic fleet and the pacific fleet if needed and cut off this fire brand before the fire starts

    March 18, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  8. Gunderson

    Good Gawd,
    We have Forrest Gump in the White House and "Bloody Mary" wanting to take his place. When will the people wake up?

    March 18, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  9. Anthony Ciora

    Naw really Hillary? When did you find that out?

    March 18, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Italy's highest appeals court has upheld a two-year ban from public office imposed on former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after he was found guilty of tax fraud.

    Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin ,

    Imagine what these two mob bosses could bring the world.

    March 19, 2014 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  11. Name Uche Agonsi

    Obama should avoid getting bouged down by GOP rhetorics, with theirs reckless war mentality, and find a response that would make the Russians loose more than double what they gain from Crimean Annexation. Without threat of war, suspend US economic and diplomatic contacts with Russia. But they question remains for what purpose. Would the Russians reverse their proclamation. If any such decision will not stop the Russians dont take it.

    March 19, 2014 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  12. American Worker

    More resignation of the world's fate to others.

    Where is the leadership to avert another Cold War?

    March 19, 2014 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  13. American Worker

    Isn't this all part of the 'Flexibility' that President Obama commented on to Medvedev?

    March 19, 2014 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  14. 57kinds

    Looks like we need another Bush in the White House....I predict Jeb Bush will be the next POTUS!
    Sorry Hillary, no skirts in the white House...... we need a powerful, decisive Republican with guts, not a wimpy Democrat!. (And Jeb is Pro gun all the way!)

    March 19, 2014 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  15. 57kinds

    Why not send in UN peacekeeper troops into the Ukraine now! – to stop any escalation of hostilities with the Russians. Then they will have to negotiate.

    March 19, 2014 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  16. Sendro

    Hillary Clinton: It’s up to Putin whether there’s 'another Cold War' Basically Hillary just shrugged her shoulders! "Its up to Putin to fill in the global power vacuum since Museveni nation is too poor to do it."

    March 19, 2014 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  17. bassman

    Talk about stating the obvious. Not exactly climbing out on a limb and taking a strong stand.

    March 19, 2014 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  18. Mark Jessup

    That power mad wench ought to send her resume' to the Kremlin, after the way she stabbed Ambassador Chris Stevens in the back and the rest of the victims of her folly at Benghazi, they would probably find her talents useful.

    As long as she doesn't want to "reset" anything. She's already proven she's a failure at that.

    March 19, 2014 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  19. Marie MD

    And this is what makes sense since the US cannot continue to police the word. "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."

    March 19, 2014 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  20. Logictox

    Is Hillary kidding or just unaware of where Russia fought in WWII. Hillary claims this is to "rewrite the boundaries of post-World War II Europe." I grew up in the home of a German soldier that was wounded by Russians as he was fighting in Sevastopol in 1942. Does she not know it was Russian territory at that time?

    March 19, 2014 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  21. robo145

    Hillary was one of the dopes who mocked Palin.Epic fail you old crone.

    March 19, 2014 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  22. Gurgyl

    Do you think he is fool? No, in 1991, USSR could not feed, so divided. Even now Russia can not feed them. Bread is scarce there, do not worry–they settle themselves. It is a communist nation–food is a main problem.

    March 19, 2014 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  23. wise guy

    An African American president, and next, a woman, the Republicans heads are about to explode, awesome.

    March 19, 2014 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  24. luvbach1

    Memo to Hildebeast and the Obamanation: It's on–the cold war, that is. The 80s are calling. They want their cold war back!

    March 19, 2014 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  25. smith

    First H. Clinton compares Russia and Putin to Nazi Germany and Hitler. Now, she talking cold war fodder. I wonder if she`s aware how quickly this situation could break out into real war. It`s a little shard of land who`s people wanted to join Russia. Let it go.

    March 19, 2014 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
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