Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Europe is too dependent on Russian gas and advocated a stronger response to President Vladimir Putin’s “intimidation” in a region once under Soviet dominance.
In a 26-minute interview on German broadcaster ZDF, Clinton outlined Putin’s ambition to “restore Russia’s greatness” and said European nations should have found ways to offset their increased reliance on Russian energy.
“He has worked very hard to get Europe dependent on Russian gas,” Clinton told ZDF in an interview aired today. “The Europeans, I believe, have gone too far in letting that dependency stand, instead of looking for alternative sources.”
The European Union embraced Russia’s move into the “modern era” after the end of the Cold War and were taken in by Putin’s effort to recast the nation’s sphere of influence in central Asia and Europe, Clinton said. Putin’s government, which annexed Crimea in March, was encouraged after it “got away” with taking over two breakaway regions in Georgia, she said.
“He is bringing an old style form of leadership with a very deep past of Russian dominance into the 21st century,” Clinton said. “It needs to be rebutted strongly and consistently, first by Europe and with the United States backing Europe up.”
Clinton, who said she hadn’t yet decided whether to enter the 2016 U.S. presidential race, also called for reviewing U.S. laws passed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in light of disclosures of mass surveillance by the National Security Agency. She said the NSA had gone too far in some cases.
“Some of what we now know had happened should not have happened,” Clinton said. Asked specifically about reports that the the NSA had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, Clinton said “it should not have happened, period.”
Still, she said that many of the NSA revelations over the past year from leaked documents by former contractor Edward Snowden were “unnecessarily harmful” to national security.