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Madeleine Albright had a lot to say about Putin — and she didn't mince words

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright smiles as she shakes hands with Russian acting President Vladimir Putin, right, in Moscow's Kremlin, in 2000. Albright has died of cancer, her family said Wednesday.
Mikhail Metzel
/
AP
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright smiles as she shakes hands with Russian acting President Vladimir Putin, right, in Moscow's Kremlin, in 2000. Albright has died of cancer, her family said Wednesday.

When Madeleine Albright met Russian leader Vladimir Putin more than 20 years ago as the U.S. secretary of state, she said he was trying to ingratiate himself to then-President Bill Clinton — but Putin also "had a view of how things were going to go."

Albright, the first woman to become U.S. secretary of state, has died at the age of 84, according to her family.

She served as secretary of state from 1997 to 2001 during the Clinton administration. Clinton had previously appointed her ambassador to the United Nations in 1993.

Albright spoke with NPR last June ahead of a meeting in Geneva between Russian and U.S. leaders. The former secretary of state recalled the first time she met Putin, in 1999, and emphasized that his agenda was clear from the beginning.

He was "trying very hard to ingratiate himself with President Clinton," she said during an interview on All Things Considered.

"But my impression in the second two meetings were that he very much liked the background of being in the Kremlin with all its history, that he was smart, that he was prepared and that he had a view about how things were going to go," Albright added.

Albright said Putin isn't "easy to manage," despite meeting four U.S. presidents since his first introduction with Clinton.

"I think he is somebody that is very competent in his capabilities generally. And he believes that he is the sole reason, in many ways, that Russia now is on the world stage and that he wants to make sure that Russia is always taken into consideration," Albright told NPR.

"But Russia is alone. And it's never been clearer than it will be this time because President Biden has just come from some remarkable meetings — the G-7, NATO and the EU. And we have allies, and Putin is alone," she said in June.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been ongoing for a month, resulting in nearly 5,000 civilian casualties across the country, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of State.

Russian forces have hit spaces where Ukrainian civilians are present, such as schools, shopping centers, hospitals and apartment buildings.

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