He said this in an interview with The Atlantic, where he spoke about his most difficult foreign policy decisions, Censor.NET reports.
Part of the conversation was dedicated to the Ukrainian issue. Obama argues that Russia will always be able to dominate in the region due to the fact that Ukraine is a core Russian interest but not an American one.
"Putin acted in Ukraine in response to a client state that was about to slip out of his grasp. And he improvised in a way to hang on to his control there," the U.S. president explained his understanding of the actions of the Russian president in Crimea and the Donbas. "He's done the exact same thing in Syria, at enormous cost to the well-being of his own country."
The U.S. president is confident that accepting the notion that somehow Russia is in a stronger position now, in Syria or in Ukraine, than it was before is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of power in foreign affairs or in the world generally.
"Real power means you can get what you want without having to exert violence. Russia was much more powerful when Ukraine looked like an independent country but was a kleptocracy that he could pull the strings on," Obama said.