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On McConnell's Legacy

What Is Putin's Long-term Ukraine Strategy? Condi Rice Explained It Clearly in 2014.

AP Photo/Ben Margot, File

A 2014 clip of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussing Russian President Vladimir Putin's long-term goal in Ukraine is making the rounds on social media, and for good reason. 

Rice, who was taking part in the Aspen Institute's McCloskey Speaker Series along with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, detailed her impressions of Putin after meeting with him several times and gave the audience a look into his mindset.

First, Putin "never accepted the outcome of the end of the Cold War," she said, adding that the Russian leader called the USSR's collapse the "greatest tragedy of the 20th century" despite losing more than 30 million people in World War II. 

"I remember sitting with him at NATO in 2008," she recalled, and him saying, "Ukraine is a made-up state."

In one of the last times she met with him, Putin told her, "Russia has only been great when it was ruled by strong men." He pointed to Alexander II and Peter the Great as examples. She told the audience she resisted asking if he considered himself their equivalent.

"I'm not sure he's delusional, I am sure he's not wholly rational because leaders of great countries don't go around fighting tigers bare-chested," Rice said. "He's a megalomaniac. And you have to deal with the 5 percent chance that he might in fact be delusional and he is making up his own version of history."

Back then, Putin was talking about Russia becoming "self-sufficient and autarkic again," Rice explained. "How long has it been since we've heard those words? Josef Stalin."


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