Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday mocked her old opponent, Russian President Vladimir Putin, against the backdrop of NATO’s expansion since its forces began invading Ukraine.

On the sidelines of a conference to unveil the official portrait of her at the State Department, Clinton said sarcastically, “Alas, Vladimir… You brought this on yourself”.

“It was a controversial point… We’ve always said that no one is forced to join NATO,” she continued saying, referring to the decision of Sweden and Finland to join the defense bloc.

Stockholm and Helsinki sought to join NATO after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, which had tried unsuccessfully to join the bloc, whose members have a mutual defense agreement.

Putin considered Ukraine’s proximity to NATO to be one of the reasons that led to the invasion, which required strong Western support for Kiev, including billions of dollars in armament.

Clinton took over the US State Department in 2009 during the era of President Barack Obama, and she rushed to reset relations with Russia after they deteriorated against the backdrop of Moscow’s attack a year ago on Georgia, the former Soviet republic.

However, relations quickly deteriorated at the end of her period as Foreign Minister, as Putin personally accused her in 2012 of fueling protests by opposition leaders who rejected the results of the parliamentary elections in which his party achieved a landslide victory.

Democrat Clinton lost the presidential election against Republican Donald Trump in 2016.

A Senate committee later concluded that Moscow sought to interfere in the elections to tip in Trump’s favor.

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