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Pence's Anti-Russian Rhetoric Was 'Aimed at Distracting Attention From Qatar'

Vice President Mike Pence's statement regarding Russia and Iran's threat appears to be a continuation of the outdated policy of Barack Obama, Russian political analyst Kirill Koktysh told Radio Sputnik, suggesting that there are certain divisions within the Trump administration.

By calling Russia and Iran a "threat" US Vice President Mike Pence has tried to divert attention from the controversy surrounding Qatar, Russian political analyst Kirill Koktysh assumes.

​On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorism and announced they would break diplomatic ties with Doha.

"There is an American military base in Qatar, and [the US] has found itself in a very ambiguous situation: if Qatar is a 'sponsor of terrorism', what is the United States is doing in his [terror] hotbed? 

In this situation, it is very important to point a finger at someone else and cry: 'Stop the thief!'" Koktysh, Associate Professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), told Radio Sputnik, adding that the vice president was diverting attention from the current situation in Qatar.

While delivering his address at the Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards 2017 Pence named Russia, Iran and the threat of global terrorism as NATO's major security concerns.

"From Russia's efforts to redraw international borders by force, to Iran's attempts to destabilize the Middle East, to the global menace of terrorism that can strike anywhere and anytime. 

It seems that the world is more dangerous today than at any point since the fall of Communism a quarter century ago," Pence said.

The vice president highlighted Washington's commitment to the NATO treaty and its collective defense principle.

"The United States is resolved, as we were at NATO's founding and in every hour since, to live by that principle that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us," Pence said.

Previously, the Trump administration came under criticism from its political opponents over the US president's "failure" to pledge his commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, during his speech at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Commenting on Pence's statement, Koktysh noted that it appears that within the Trump administration each politician is pursuing his or her own goals.

"Mike Pence has once again proved the fact that [US President Donald] Trump's [administration] is not a team, but simply a cluster of different politicians, each of whom acts primarily in his own interests and presents the interests of his lobby and his constituents. 

And here Mike Pence said what Trump did not want to say. 

He [Pence] simply voiced the old thesis that Russia and Iran are [the US'] main threats. 

This is, in fact, a reiteration of [Barack] Obama's old agenda. 

This is an intra-American message and a message to [US] allies," Koktysh pointed out.

For his part, Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, expressed his concerns over Pence's words.

"The statements of US Vice President Mike Pence that Russia, Iran, and terrorism are the main threats in the world are disappointing and regrettable," Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page. 

"They demonstrate that Donald Trump's administration is either incompetent or follows the trodden path of their predecessors."

Speaking to Sputnik on Tuesday, Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee, echoed Kosachev's stance.

"Now we see we should not wait for a quality improvement of relations with the United States compared to the administration of [former US President Barack] Obama," Slutsky said.

In response to Pence's statement, the Kremlin highlighted that it is primarily guided by the stance of the US President Trump.

"We hope that the US position will become clearer, but of course the position of President Trump is fundamental and the position by which Moscow is guided. 

Indubitably, we regret such phrases regarding our country," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed.


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