John Bolton, who could be the next secretary of state, said Tuesday that Russia would likely take "a lot of actions" before Donald Trump's inauguration to exploit the weaknesses of President Obama.
In an appearance on Fox News, Bolton addressed the Russian airstrikes carried out against Syrian rebel forces this week in eastern Aleppo. Russia is allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"I think that Russia will take a lot of actions before the 20th of January, as I think will other countries that see one last opportunity to exploit Obama's weakness," Bolton said.
The Kremlin said in a statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump will work to iron out the current "unsatisfactory" relationship between the two countries. Bolton agreed with that description.
"Well, I think relations are very unsatisfactory, largely due to the behavior of Russia and the naiveté and incompetence of the Obama administration," he said. "I think we all remember that Hillary Clinton started out her tenure as secretary of state with the famous reset button, blaming what were then bad relationships between Washington and Moscow on the Bush administration, and it turned out that making one concession after another to Putin didn't make relations any better."
Asked by Fox News host Bill Hemmer how Trump will deal with Putin differently than Obama, Bolton said Putin views Obama "quite correctly" as an "exceedingly weak leader."
"I think Trump is going to be the opposite. I think he's going to be a strong leader," Bolton said. "I think that will have two dramatic impacts on Putin. Number one, it'll make him a lot more hesitant to try and extend Russian influence, and two, what may seem paradoxical but what I think is true, it'll make Putin more inclined to cooperate, because he'll believe that if he makes a deal with another strong leader, they both will stick to it."
Bolton also addressed the rumors that he could be tapped to be Trump's first chief diplomat. The former U.N. ambassador said he would be "honored" to serve the country again, but he said he and Trump had not discussed any such appointment.