WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says Russian President Vladimir Putin is "improvising himself" into a nationalist, backward-looking approach to Russian policy.

President Barack Obama speaks to leading CEOs to discuss ways to promote the economy and create jobs during his last two years in office (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Obama says he's not optimistic that Putin will change his mindset anytime soon. He says Putin's actions are "scaring the heck out of his neighbors" and that Russia is completely isolated internationally. But Obama says the challenge is that those same actions are politically popular inside Russia.

Obama says he doesn't think Putin will change course until the politics in Russia catches up to the damage being done to Russia's economy by Western sanctions.

Obama says he had a very productive relationship with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev when Medvedev was president, even though Putin was still "the power behind the throne."

Obama spoke Wednesday at a meeting with leading American CEOs.

(© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)