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Obama threatens Russia with new sanctions over Ukraine

Published time: August 28, 2014 20:28
Edited time: August 28, 2014 21:02
US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

President Barack Obama acknowledged during an impromptu press conference on Thursday afternoon that the United States is considering new sanctions to impose against Russia over the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

From the White House, Pres. Obama told reporters that he’s certain Russia is playing a direct role in the ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine between anti-Kiev separatists and the country’s military, and that the US is weighing further sanctions to intensify the restrictions previously waged against Moscow.

“As a result of the action Russia has already taken and the major sanctions we’ve imposed,” Obama said, “Russia is already more isolated than any time since the end of the cold war.”

“The separatists are backed, trained, armed, financed by Russia. Throughout this process we’ve seen deep Russian involvement in everything that they’ve done,” Obama added.

That behavior, he added, “will only bring more cost and consequences to Russia.” After speaking with allies, Obama continued, he expects a new wave of sanctions to come soon. The president is expected to meet with NATO partners next week, and said the US “will continue to stand firm with our allies and partners” to protect Ukraine from further encroachment.

In our consultation with our European allies,” Obama said, “…my expectation is we will take additional steps, primary because we have not seen any meaningful action on the part of Russia to try and actually resolve this in a diplomatic fashion.”

Earlier Thursday, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said during a press conference that there are “additional tools and sanctions” being considered against Russia.

Psaki and the president’s remarks sandwiched a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York City, during which representatives from the US, United Kingdom, Australia and others all urged Russia to refrain from further escalating the situation near its border with eastern Ukraine.

In the face of this threat, the cost of inaction is unacceptable," Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, said during the meeting.

Vitaly Churkin, Power's Russian counterpart, deflected blame and warned the US: "Stop interfering in the affairs of sovereign states."

On his part, Pres. Obama added that the US has ruled out the possibility of a military response.

We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we’re doing is to mobilize the international community to apply pressure on Russia. But I think it is very important to recognize that a military solution for this problem is not going to be forthcoming,” he said.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but a number of those states who are close by are,” he added, “and we take our Article Five commitments to defend each other very seriously — and that includes the smallest NATO member as well as the largest.”