Obama says Putin is improvising into nationalist, backward approach to Russia



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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says Russian President Vladimir Putin (POO'-tihn) is "improvising himself" into a nationalist, backward-looking approach to Russian policy.

Obama says he's not optimistic that Putin will change his mindset anytime soon. He says Putin's actions are "scaring the heck out of his neighbors" and that Russia is completely isolated internationally. But Obama says the challenge is that those same actions are politically popular inside Russia.

Obama says he doesn't think Putin will change course until the politics in Russia catches up to the damage being done to Russia's economy by Western sanctions.

Obama says he had a very productive relationship with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (dih-MEE'-tree med-VYEH'-dyev) when Medvedev was president, even though Putin was still "the power behind the throne."

Obama spoke Wednesday at a meeting with leading American CEOs.

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