Then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin for the first time in 2000. The former Secretary of State had harsh words for Putin in a recent interview. Reuters
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has incurred the wrath of Russian President Vladimir Putinâ€™s allies after calling him a â€œsmart but truly evil man.â€
In an interview with Austrian newspaper Die Presse, Albright defended the foreign policy of Bill Clintonâ€™s administration, in which she was Secretary of State during Clintonâ€™s first term. The Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary were the first former Communist states to join NATO in 1999, in what would become the first step of an eastward expansion which has strongly incensed Moscow.
Â â€œI am very proud of the NATO expansion. Then we managed to use the power of Western Europe and help the Balkan states,” Albright said. â€œThe United States saw its role as an indispensable nation which should do good all over the world.â€
Albright took a less positive view of Putin, whom she met during a visit to the Kremlin in 2000, shortly after he succeeded former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. When asked what her lasting impression was of the young president, Albright was critical.
“He is smart, but a truly evil man,â€ she said, describing him as â€œa KGB officer, who wants to keep everything under control and believes that everyone conspires against Russia.â€
â€œPutin had bad cards, but they were played well,â€ she said. â€œAt least, in the short-term. I think his goal is to undermine and split the EU. He wants to drive NATO from his sphere of influence.”
Washingtonâ€™s former top diplomat also warned that the Baltic states should be concerned from Russiaâ€™s military build-up on its borders, especially because of Russiaâ€™s method of â€œasymmetric warfare.â€
Albright also dismissed Russian criticisms that the U.S. seeks to provoke Russia, saying â€œthe U.S. has no problem with Russia, except when it occupies other countries.â€
â€œOne always looks for excuses for Russia and I’m fed up with it,â€ Albright said. â€œRussia is a country that provokes and then feels insulted.â€
In response, Putin-ally and chairman of Russian parliamentâ€™s International Relations Committee Alexey Pushkov took to Twitter.
â€œWhether Albright is fed up or not, is not important,â€ he wrote. â€œThe U.S. and its allies are forced to deal with Russia.The opinion of some forgotten Secretary of State, is of nobodyâ€™s interest.â€
Damien Sharkov, Newsweek