Obama defends handling of Ukraine crisis
March 25th, 2014
01:05 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama defends handling of Ukraine crisis

The Hague, Netherlands (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended his response to Russia's military led annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

At a news conference after a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands, Obama noted that Moscow could face further sanctions should Russian forces invade other parts of Ukraine.

He issued a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin.


"He just has to understand there is a choice to be made here," Obama said.

The President's remarks came one day after the group of industrialized nations effectively suspended Russia's membership over the Crimea matter, meaning the G8 is again the G7.

Obama rejected the notion of his 2012 election rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, that Russia is the top geopolitical foe of the U.S, adding he is more worried about a "nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan."

"Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors," Obama said, adding Moscow's actions are "not out of strength but out of weakness."

He argued the fate of Crimea is "not a done deal," even as he agreed Russia controls the situation on the ground.

While Obama has ruled out military action in Ukraine and agreed Russia will not be dislodged by force from the occupied peninsula, he suggested economic sanctions could prompt Putin to reverse course.

A senior administration official said the President was not discussing intelligence when he made the remark about a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan. He was referring to his concern about nuclear terrorism, one of the key reasons for this week's summit.

A spokesman for the nuclear summit said the leaders gathered at The Hague were presented a fictitious dirty bomb scenario that would test their crisis management skills.

Each of the leaders participated in a two- to three-minute scenario that took place in a made up city.

The leaders were given a tablet and they anonymously played, given four options and then asked what they would do.


Filed under: Mitt Romney • President Obama • Russia • Ukraine • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Silence DoGood

    Mr. president you don't have to explain to those of us who are actually following the situation and respect your measured and even-handed approach. And speaking realllllllly slowwwwwly for the Tea Party is not going to help. They are not listening to anything but the latest conspiracy theory.

    March 25, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  2. Steve, New York City

    Russia had been pretty much unable to do anything about President Dick Cheney's imbecile Iraq invasion in 2003. By the same token, it's not like Russia is a weak, small push-over country that will simply halt a very aggressive action in its own back yard just because the West says so. On this topic, Mitt Romney's criticism sounds a bit ridiculous – and he should remember that he lost 2012's presidential election b/c most people weren't convinced that his policy ideas extended beyond simply hating Obama.

    March 25, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    I'll leave the foreign policy decisions to the POTUS. Willard is just Monday morning quarterbacking. Opinions are like bungholes, everyone's got one. Where were all of these neocons when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008? Shots and bombs actually went off in that conflict. Heck! Bush didn't even level sanctions against Russia and Russia remained a member of the G8. Pres. Obama is handling this the best any President can handle it without putting troops on the ground. But that's precisely what Willard, Darth Cheney, McLame and the rest of the whacko birds want to do.

    March 25, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. rs

    Given the absence of leadership from the Right, or the fact that (short of nuclear war), the President and NATO and the G-7 have in fact, done everything and more that the Right has demanded. History lesson: President Bush set the dangerous precedence of doing nothing when Russia invaded Georgia. If Russia has any ideas that the West as a whole, or the U.S. specifically will not react, that is likely where they got the idea.
    For me, I like the President's measured response. The Right should just remain silent until the point in the conversation that they actually contribute something of value.

    March 25, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Reggie53

    Obama is a weak leader. He does not know how to handle situations like this so this only shows his inadequacies as being a world leader. He is in a job that he is not qualified in doing....give him his community organizing and he will be okay. If this is what he considers being a great leader then he has a whole lot to learn. Putin is playing him like a fiddle and he does not know what to do.........Obama is definitely out of his league. I actually feel sorry for him because he is showing the world that America is no longer that strong, confident country that it once was before he became president.

    March 25, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Chris-E...al

    Now would be a good time for 0bama to call him Putin a mad little school boy . But he did 4 months ago ? Now he calls him weak ? If not 4 the nato nations we should nt worry with russia and we didnt get alot of help from nato when we needed them the last 12 years ?

    March 25, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. More bad news..

    Obama said:
    "Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors," Obama said, adding Moscow's actions are "not out of strength but out of weakness."

    Yeah, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight........and how about keeping my insurance plan or my Dr., or that the NSA won't spy on it's own citizens?
    Liar in Chief, lying again. Russia took over Crimea because they're weak, and they're only a Regional power, not like they're a world power or a permanent member of the UN Security Council.......makes a lot of sense, right? LOL

    No need to worry, everything's just fine.................

    March 25, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Abbey

    Did he bring his Nobel with him and parade it around the room? Yawnnninnng.....

    March 25, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. BC

    What a joke of a president. If I was a liberal I would run and hide. He could punch a liberal in the face and they would ask for another. Sorry...but you can't blame Bush on this lame Potus. 🙂

    March 25, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. rs

    Reggie53

    Obama is a weak leader. He does not know how to handle situations like this so this only shows his inadequacies as being a world leader. He is in a job that he is not qualified in doing....give him his community organizing and he will be okay. If this is what he considers being a great leader then he has a whole lot to learn. Putin is playing him like a fiddle and he does not know what to do.........Obama is definitely out of his league. I actually feel sorry for him because he is showing the world that America is no longer that strong, confident country that it once was before he became president.
    __________________________
    So, 2 questions:
    1. What is the importance of the Ukraine to the United States? Why is this incident of interest to us?
    2. What should the President have done?

    March 25, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. BC

    Did Obama have on his mom jeans?

    March 25, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. BC

    I got two words for you liberals. Red Line.....lol

    March 25, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Karina

    Obama is no match for Putin and has lacked experience when dealing with foreign relations and diplomacy.
    America has had a weak and non productive secretary of state in Clinton and now Kerry is doing a job that is way above his pay grade.
    Time to bring new faces to Washington , especially smarter ones , right now , there are not many that live up to the task of Public Service they have been elected to , on both sides.

    March 25, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Iiksskinaa

    I find it a very interesting comment to view the Russian Federation as taking their action because of their weakness not their strength, one that I am agreeing with now trying a strict historical lens.

    This is not saying Russian People are weak, they have every right to remain as prideful as they see, just that there is great possibility that Putin's moves are 'in retaliation' to Russia's declining influence in the world. The crisis is their best chance at holding better status to the rest of the globe.

    Yanukovych failed to rally the entirety of Ukraine to join Eurasia, as Kazakhstan and Belarus already have, and Ukraine is strategically important because of of Oil and Gas. As a 'bridge' between Russia and EU, those oilfields put Europe in a tough spot because of their dependency. Crimea was 'taken' because Russia has an Economic, Military and Geographical significance of investment in the region. And with Russia effectively controlling the peninsula, now have complete charge on the chessboard over those specific resources, be it illegitimate or not.

    Interested to see if these sanctions are effective, it seemed to me that the Dutch PM was acting a bit non-committal on the issue, as if he knows that EU is going to suffer as much without Ukrainian and Russian Oil and Gas.

    March 25, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. smith

    If Obama and the European Union wouldn`t have supported the coup in Ukraine there would be no mess over there. You don`t overthrow a goverment because they chose to do business with Russia instead of the EU. That is poor leadership on the part of Obama.

    March 25, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. Tampa Tim

    I am convinced that intelligence is not a trait of a right wingnut. A parrot can be trained to repeat Hannity's talking points.

    March 25, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. TONE

    Reading some these Obama haters comment lead to believe that they do not have a clue as to what is going what's new.

    March 25, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. GeorgeMC

    Thank God President Obama ignores those stupid GOP/Tea Party fools and NOT get lone U.S. troops into another hopeless conflict.
    God Bless America, and God Bless President Obama!!! ...

    March 25, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. GeorgeMC

    Excuse me, but didn't Romney LOSE the election? Well, at least we now know why! ...Smiles!!!

    March 25, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Hector

    "He just has to understand there is a choice to be made here," Obama said.

    Is dinglebarry going to draw another line in the sand? What an idiot.

    March 25, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. Tampa Tim

    Right wingnuts have no plan, just non stop criticism. While they had no problem with W allowing N Korea nukes, Russia taking Georgia, a destabilized Middle East, two unnecessary wars, 9-11-2001, 15 embassy attacks, and having to duck shoes thrown at him, this is real republican leadership? Obama is fixing the mess, but it takes a little longer because the GOBaggers are determined to ruin our country.

    March 25, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  22. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    You don't have to explain anything Mr. President. Those calling you weak have no idea what real strength looks like. It takes real strength and courage to do your job with such class and intellect. Something the GOP has shown to be lacking.

    Anyone can send other peoples kids to war but it takes a real leader to handle the situation with diplomacy. Even with the opposing party criticizing everything he does from what he has for breakfast to how many times he uses the restroom per day.

    March 25, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. sofork

    President Obama is so naïve even for a glorified community organizer.

    March 25, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Monomachos

    Romney was right, Obama was wrong about Russia. Period.

    March 25, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. arale norimaki

    the same Romney that supported the Vietnam War, but did not enlist. Instead, he got
    draft deferments and worked as a missionary ["minister of religion"] for
    31 months, for the Mormon church, in France, one of those "European
    countries

    Rich old men will always send poor young men to fight their wars while protecting their sons

    March 25, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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