By Tim Devaney - 02/23/14 02:44 PM EST
National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is still living in the past and has a "pretty dated perspective" on Cold War politics with the United States.
The Obama administration and Russia have been at odds as of late over a number of issues, including NSA leaker Edward Snowden's asylum, the civil war in Syria, Russia's treatment of gay people and, more recently, the conflict in Ukraine.
Some pundits have speculated Putin is using the disagreements to escalate diplomatic tensions into a second Cold War between the two superpowers, but Rice reiterated the Obama administration's opposition to any such conflict.
The conflict in Ukraine is the latest example of rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Rice suggested she wouldn't be surprised if Putin views the disagreements from a Cold War perspective, even if the Obama administration doesn't.
"He may, but if he does, that's a pretty dated perspective that doesn't reflect where the people of Ukraine are coming from," Rice said. "This is not about the U.S. and Russia. This is about whether the people of Ukraine have the opportunity to fulfill their aspirations and be democratic and be part of Europe, which they choose to be."
Rice pointed to areas of agreement and disagreement between the U.S. and Russia. She said the two countries have been able to work well together to develop a new arms control treaty. They've also cooperated on the Iran nuclear negotiations and on Afghanistan, she said.
But Rice said the U.S. "differs bitterly" with Russia on human rights issues, such as its handling of the ongoing civil war in Syria and Moscow's treatment of gay people.
"The fact of the matter is, we should cooperate where we can," Rice said. "Where we can't agree and we don't agree, we should be very plain about that and stand up for our interests, which we do."
This comes after President Obama said last week he is not interested in returning to Cold War-style politics with Russia.
"Our approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we're in competition with Russia," Obama said during his trip to Toluca, Mexico. "Our goal is to make sure that the people of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves about their future, that the people of Syria are able to make decisions without having bombs going off and killing women and children."