March 23rd, 2014
01:37 PM ET
4 months ago

White House continues calls to isolate Russia, support Ukraine

(CNN) - The Obama administration said Sunday that action against Russia for its incursion into Crimea is working, as Moscow’s economy struggles under sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries.

"This is exactly already a real cost for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and in Russia and the economy," White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"The stock market went down significantly including this week. We saw the ruble get an all-time low. Investors who are looking at Russia (are) sitting on the fence because they are looking for three things: They are looking for stability. They are looking to see if the country makes good on integrated agreements, and if it is working with the world economy. All three areas, Putin has such tremendous doubt."

But as Russian forces continued consolidating their control of Crimea over the weekend, a top Ukrainian official said chances are "growing" for a full-blown war between his country and Russia.

Amid a buildup of Russian forces on Ukraine's eastern border, Andrii Deshchytsia, Ukrainian acting foreign affairs minister, said his country is "ready to respond" as the situation becomes "even more explosive" than it was last week.

"The Ukrainian government is trying to use all their peaceful means and diplomatic means to stop Russia. But the people are also ready to defend their homeland," he said on ABC's "This Week."

Blinken said the large-scale drills by Russia near the Ukrainian border could be an act of intimidation, but it's also possible Russia plans to move forces in.

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright told CNN’s Candy Crowley that Putin “is basically trying to threaten and show that he has power.”

“I think it's very worrisome,” she said, adding that economic sanctions against Russia will "take a while to bite" but have already had major effects.

Blinken said the White House is looking at military assistance, though it's "unlikely to prevent an invasion" of Ukraine.

Russia's movement to the Ukrainian border comes as President Barack Obama prepares to head overseas on a four-day European tour, where he'll try to appeal to European leaders for a tougher response to Putin's movement into Crimea.

Albright said Obama’s travels "will give an opportunity to the President and the European allies and other allies to make what I think is a pretty clear message even clearer."

Citizens in the disputed peninsula of Crimea voted to leave Ukraine in a hastily arranged referendum earlier this month. Russia swiftly recognized the succession.

The United States announced its own new round of sanctions last week against 20 individuals and a bank. Washington had already announced sanctions on 11 individuals. EU leaders also imposed a new round of sanctions against 12 individuals last week, bringing the total number of people facing EU asset freezes and travel bans to 33.

So far, European powers such as Germany and Britain have been unwilling to embrace significant economic sanctions against Russia because of their strong trade and investment ties with Moscow.

Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan and Intelligence Committee chairman, said Putin's takeover of Crimea isn't his last attempt to exert more control in the region.

"It certainly appears by everything that Ukrainian intelligence officials believe, certainly U.S. intelligence officials believe, that Putin is not done in Ukraine," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We need to be a little bit tougher with this, with Putin, or he is going to continue to take territory to fulfill what he believes is rightfully Russia."

Meanwhile, a Ukraine financial aid package is stalled in Congress, caught up in a fight over IMF funding and an unrelated dispute over rules aimed at curbing political activities by nonprofit groups. The Senate will again take up the bill next week. The package includes $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees as well as $50 million to boost democracy building in Ukraine and $100 million for enhanced security cooperation for Ukraine and some of its neighbors.

In interviews with CBS on Sunday, Sens. Dick Durbin and Kelly Ayotte backed military aid to Ukraine.

"We've got to strengthen them and help them with advice and backing," said Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate.

Taking it one step further, Ayotte, a Republican from New Hampshire, said the U.S. should broaden sanctions on Russia's economy to the country's entire financial sector.

Mitt Romney, the GOP's presidential nominee in 2012, said the President should have been more forceful with Putin from the start.

"I'm saying what (Obama) should have done from the very beginning was have the judgment to understand that Russia was not our friend, that Russia had very different ambitions and interests, that you have to stand strong," he said.

Romney, who called Russia the United States' "No. 1 geopolitical foe" during a debate, said Obama’s "faulty judgment" led to the current diplomatic challenges with the country.

CNN's Tom Cohen and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Obama administration • Russia • TV-State of the Union • Ukraine
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Angry republicans want war, and they want it now! They are not going to be happy.

    March 23, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. just asking

    The Obama administration said Sunday that action against Russia for its incursion into Crimea is working, as Moscow’s economy struggles under sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries.
    --

    bwahahahahaha!!! only one word to describe obama and all the clowns in his administration. delusional.
    it is clear they believe their own lies and expect us to as well. putin has got to be rolling on the floor laughing if he is reading this rubbish.

    March 23, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    jerrylax
    I have to laugh when I see someone defending ACA. When the costs are up and coverage for premium payers is down. The biggest benefactors of ACA is big Pharma, the AMA, and the insurance industry. NOTHING has been done to bring to light where our health care dollar goes and for what! Oh, and don't forget the expansion of medicaid that didn't happen. This was chicago community organizing (tax grabbing) politics nothing more.
    --
    The cost of health care has increased 3% for each of the last 4 years, which is half of the annual increases for each of the previous 8 years. Fox is wrong, are you still laughing?

    March 23, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    EU needs to impose sanctions–not just USA. Russia needs bread–not invading,

    March 23, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Peter Benton

    The US spent billions of dollars to destabilise the elected government of Ukraine, and the violent overthrow of same. Russia was not the aggressor, and the people of Crimea have a right to self determination. I hate to say it, but the US government seems to be the source of most of the violence and war all over the world. I have lost all faith in the government and I consider all of those connected to it to b e criminals, and CNN has turned out to be nothing but a ;propaganda machine. It's not going to be long before you have no listioners at all. Ylou all had better wake up. Your business model sucks.

    March 23, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  6. Blake

    So I guess Mitt Romney's plan would have been to alienate Russia and Russians and treat them like Cold War enemies before they even did anything. All that would have done is given them a lot more ammunition to do what they're doing now and actually convince a lot of people outside Russia that they're justified due to American/Western hostility to Russia before hand.

    The fact is the world is more united against Russia because of the diplomatic and economic overtures by the Obama, Bush, Clinton Administrations and western governments in general. Even during this crisis Russia was given many chances to pull out and settle this civilly with the Ukrainian government. It's hard for Russia to call foul on the West when we have given them every opportunity to be an equal partner and civil acting society.

    If the US had treated Putin and Russia harshly over the last year, combined with the NSA scandals etc., I doubt Europeans today would have been as willing to do Sanctions vs. Russia. If Romney had been President, the USA may have even been involved in Syria with boots on the ground, since to Romney said himself that Russia is the USA's #1 geopolitical foe. Since Russia is the main reason why the Syrian Civil War is still going, I'm sure based off Romney's own words he would have been much more hawkish there than Obama.

    March 23, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. Bill from GA

    Ukraine's government was taken over by revolutionary forces. Since they side with the West, and were probably financed by the West, we recognize and support them. However, the people of Crimea do not share those feelings. We should respect the wishes of the Crimeans and let them go with Russia.

    As to the regions of Eastern Ukraine with large Russian-leaning populations, we should have meetings with them, the rebel leaders of Ukraine, and Russia. A solution without a lot of head-butting between us and Russia, where we respect the right of citizens to determine their future path, would be best.

    Every issue does not have to be a battle between the USA and Russia. Sometimes, we should just mind our own business, and not act like we rule the world.

    March 23, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. king

    i know the repubs are going through a dilemma, sell out to their hero Putin to destroy Obama, or stick with Obama on getting Europe involved to make our planet liveable. the right wing will never do nothing to help Obama look good, they will rather watch our country burn in nuclear disaster. i cannot put my hands on where this hatred comes from. i know most of these same people weren't borne 5 years ago when this country was in turmoil aleast they play the part. this president have brought our country back on a firm foundation, its surprising that month after months year after year, and still their is not one time that this country had an ecup or a dip, in productivity from the jobs front to the economic front. i think this is a record. but the more the country grows the more these folks hate this president, its amazing. fox news have not broadcast a positive message about anything involved with the economy or foreign policy. how can you not see one thing in 5 years positive about this country. i can bet you 100 dollars fox news, if you will throw away your cowardliness for a second, and hire just one dem host, you will go against prodigal and mention something positives in this country. your rival left leaning msnbc hires a repubs 3 hours every week days morning, why can't you. your one objective is to destroy consumer confidence and see the country goes down just to get one man job. this is inhuman fox news.

    March 23, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    If I only received information from Fox, like a right wingnut, I too would think the sky is falling. Fortunately, there are real news outlets to get information from.

    March 23, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. don in albuquerque

    just asking

    And what else would you have the president do? Once talking stops that only leaves one other option, and I doubt you would be laughing then. Posts like yours do harm to the country during a time of crisis. But then this nation can no longer pull together. Oh well, nothing lasts for ever. The Romans thought so but they too were swept away by arrogance. The old thing about a "house divided." Sounds like you like Mr. Putin. It's posts like yours that he laughs the hardest at, and appreciates.

    March 23, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. J Anthony

    It is unfortunate that in age of infinite crisis, we cannot pull together as a country. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, a traumatized populace rallied aroound W in hope that those responsible would be held accountable. We all know how that went.Today we face crises on all fronts,and we are more divided than ever. Why? And don'tgive me any crap about how it's all Obama's fault. The world did not begin in 2009. We are entering a period of critical mass due to problems that have building up since the 1970s. Each president since has done litttle to alleviate these problems, as they have instead been exacerbated with each administration.

    March 23, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  12. Ukrainian

    After reading this western propaganda, I see Obama looking for a war with Putin... He is everywhere .. in China... in Europe...in Canada....he is doing everything except questioning the neo-Nazi government in Kiev and why Ukrainians are still protesting and welcome Putin. Obama doesn't give Putin a chance except the war. it is obvious. He accepted and helping financially the gang government in Kiev, so what is left for Putin? only to help Ukrainians in East and South of the Ukraine who are waiting for him and you Americans can continue wasting your tax money and pretend that you are helping Ukraine. Not really, you are helping neo- Nazi which seized the power by violence .

    March 23, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  13. HRC16

    Hey Mitt, sure glad your not President. As I recall it was George W. that looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul. Something about a man he can work with. Obama's done a great job! When is the congress going to stop playing games and give him some support. Now's the time to vote in a congress that can work with the President and advance his people oriented agenda.

    March 23, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  14. Chris-E...al

    Russia . China . IRan . N.korea . Dems will work with them . We are Safe . Ever day is surely a blessing !

    March 23, 2014 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  15. i'malib

    Tampa Tim

    Angry republicans want war, and they want it now! They are not going to be happy.
    -----------------------------------
    I agree! Republicans started WW1, WW2, Korea AND Vietnam! When will it end!

    March 24, 2014 12:02 am at 12:02 am |