MOSCOW: After Hillary Clinton sought to needle President Vladimir Putin over NATO enlargement, the Kremlin on Wednesday hit back by reminding her of her gaffe when she sought to “reset” relations with Russia with a button mislabelled as “overload”.
Returning to the State Department for the unveiling of her official portrait, Clinton said of NATO enlargement:
“Too bad, Vladimir. You brought it on yourself.” Asked about her remarks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Clinton was known in Russia for her attempts to turn everything upside down, but most of all for her 2009 gaffe when a symbolic button designed to mark a “reset” of US-Russia ties, was instead labelled “overload” in Russian.
“It is clear that this was probably not a deliberate mistake, but very telling,” Peskov said.
At the time of Clinton’s gaffe, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told her the Russian verb the United States had used was incorrect but said the button would be put on his desk.
“It is probably necessary to remind Mrs Clinton of the numerous waves of NATO expansion and the approach of the alliance’s military infrastructure to our borders,” Peskov said.
NATO, created in 1949 to provide collective security against the Soviet Union, enlarged after the 1991 collapse of the Union with the inclusion of former Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries.
Launching the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Putin listed his key aims as halting NATO’s eastward enlargement and ending what he called the “genocide” of Russian-speaking people by “nationalists and neo-Nazis” in Ukraine since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Putin’s actions spurred Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, to join NATO. Sweden also aims to join.