House Foreign Affairs chairman: Putin believes he can ‘dis’ the United States

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes he can “dis” the United States without repercussions, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said in an interview with CNN. 

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Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) told Wolf Blitzer late Friday that Putin “intends to stick his thumb in the eye of the United States every time he can.”

“I think there was an opportunity with the past leadership in Russia,” Royce said. “But right now, clearly, Putin intends to ... stick his thumb in the eye of the United States every time he can. And so it's a difficult situation. He's trying to undermine us in Syria. He's not helpful in Iran. And, as a consequence, I think we're in a tough position right now.”

Royce placed some of the blame for the state of U.S.-Russia relations on President Obama.

“Right now, I think that ... the head of state in Russia today believes that he can dis the U.S. without any negative consequences,” Royce said. “And that probably comes from the fact that we don't carry the same perception of strength that we did and the gravitas of the president of the United States is not that of former presidents. And I do think that's a problem for President Obama.”

Royce said Putin would behave differently if the U.S. had more respect on the global stage.

“I think my critique would be that if the United States was taken maybe a little more seriously on the world stage, the likelihood then would be that we'd have a little bit more respect out of the Russians,” he said.