Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Obama to Russia: More sanctions are ‘teed up’

From page A2 | April 24, 2014 |

TOKYO (AP) — Accusing Russia of failing to live up to its commitments, President Barack Obama warned Moscow on Thursday that the United States has another round of economic sanctions “teed up” — even as he acknowledged those penalties may do little to influence Vladimir Putin’s handling of the crisis in Ukraine.

Obama’s frank pessimism underscored the limits of Washington’s ability to prevent Russia from stirring up instability in Ukraine’s east and exerting influence over elections scheduled for next month in the former Soviet republic. A diplomatic accord that offered a glimmer of hope for a resolution to the tense dispute is crumbling, and Russia has warned of a firm response if the country’s citizens or interests in Ukraine are attacked.

With no appetite in the U.S. for a military response, Obama is largely banking on Putin, the Russian president, caving under a cascade of economic sanctions targeting his closest associates. But the success of that strategy also depends on European nations with closer financial ties to Moscow taking similar action despite their concern about a boomerang effect on their own economies.

“I understand that additional sanctions may not change Mr. Putin’s calculus,” Obama said during a joint news conference in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “How well they change his calculus in part depends on not only us applying sanctions but also the cooperation of other countries.”

The president’s comments came one week after Russia signed an agreement with the U.S., Ukraine and Europe that called for pro-Russian forces to leave the government buildings they have occupied throughout eastern Ukraine and allow international monitors into the region. But there’s been little indication that Russia is following through on its commitments.

“There was some possibility that Russia could take the wiser course after the meeting in Geneva,” Obama said. “So far at least, we have seen them not abide by the spirit or the letter of the agreement.”

The president said the U.S. has crafted a new package of sanctions to punish Russia for failing to follow through on the Geneva accord, but he stopped short of saying he had, in fact, decided to move forward with those penalties.

“There’s always the possibility that Russia tomorrow or the next day takes a different course,” he said. “Do I think they’re going to do that? So far the evidence doesn’t make me hopeful.”

Echoing comments from other officials in Washington, Obama said a decision on the sanctions would come in a matter of days, not weeks. That timeline would appear to put the decision in the midst of Obama’s eight-day Asia trip, which also includes stops in South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The pending penalties on Russia are expected to target wealthy individuals in Putin’s inner circle, as well as the entities they oversee. Although U.S. has also threatened to levy potentially crippling sanctions on key Russian industries — including its robust energy sector — officials say they only plan to employ those tougher penalties if Russia moves military forces into Ukraine.

The U.S. and Europe have already issued asset freezes and visa bans targeting Russian and Ukrainian officials in response to the Kremlin’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. But those penalties have appeared to do little to convince to Putin to avoid fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, where the U.S. is accusing Russia of fomenting unrest.

On Thursday, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia insurgents reported at least two deaths on the pro-Russia side during clashes in east Ukraine. The fighting was the first since Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Tuesday ordered the resumption of military operations to root out the pro-Russian forces.

Putin has denied that his country is the guiding force behind the insurgents who have occupied government buildings in nearly a dozen cities in Ukraine’s east. Russian officials have instead focused their attention on the forces Ukraine’s government has sent to the region in an effort to counter the occupying insurgents.

“If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia, I do not see any other way but to respond in full accordance with international law,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday. He was referring to the 2008 war that led to the breaking away of the Georgian republic of South Ossetia.

In that conflict, Russia launched an invasion of Georgia after it unleashed an artillery attack on the capital of the separatist region, where Russian peacekeeping forces were stationed.


By Julie Pace, AP White House correspondent

The Associated Press


Discussion | 14 comments

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  • ontApril 24, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    Dang you Obama!!!q! Romney would have bravely sent our boys over to Urkane weeks ago. And a few to Crimeya TOO!! We’d be mopping up the sorry dregs of Russian resistance and planting our flag on the oil fields of eastern Urkane right about now if you weren’t so scared of Putin’s strong bare chest. (There you go, Greg. No need to weigh in I covered your usual points already.)

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  • Greg JohnsonApril 24, 2014 - 6:54 pm

    Good morning Ont! I started reading your comment and thought I recognized your "style".

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  • Greg JohnsonApril 24, 2014 - 6:58 pm

    may not change Mr. Putin’s calculus,.......When Obama says "calculus" I get nervous. Isn't that how the Syria mess started---"change my calculus". Uh oh!

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  • ontApril 24, 2014 - 11:43 pm

    Seems to me the Syrian “mess” started when a significant portion of their population got fed up with their dictator. As far as our involvement, without any bombing or boots on the ground we managed to get Assad to start giving up his chemical weapons which is a benefit to all in the region including Israel, which according to you the president hates, along with the rancher in Nevada whose land you claim he’s stealing. As far as the rancher, unfortunately for him he didn’t get the memo from other conservatives that you are supposed to conceal your racism in public.

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  • Greg JohnsonApril 25, 2014 - 8:49 am


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  • Puddin TaneApril 25, 2014 - 9:37 am

    Ha ha, wait Greg, you support Cliven Bundy? Please say it ain't so, you almost had built up credibility as a fiscal conservative/social-whatever! I really hope you aren't coming to the defense of crazy welfare ranchers who claim they uphold their state's constitution without having any real understanding of it (specifically Section 1, which pledges that the US Federal Gov has supreme authority over the state of Nevada). Supporting a "taker" seems like it would clash with your beliefs.

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  • Puddin TaneApril 25, 2014 - 9:58 am

    Whoops, that should be Article 1, Section 2 of the Nevada state constitution, which includes a paramount allegiance clause to the United States. My bad.

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  • Greg JohnsonApril 25, 2014 - 10:43 am

    And, in addition Puddin, I think sending a small number of troops for training exercises in countries neighboring Ukraine was a good move by Obama, along with further sanctions. Putin can only be stopped by showing some toughness-that 's all he understands.

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  • Greg JohnsonApril 25, 2014 - 10:40 am

    No, I don't support Bundy. Ont is stoned again! In truth, I do believe the federal government is too big and too powerful, AND I think the move to bring in a bunch of federal agents was expensive, stupid, and a very poor decision which could have gone bad in several ways. But, no I don't support Bundy, although I would need to know much more about the case to have an educated opinion (What is the land worth? What is the rate of return off equivalent land? What are the specifics of past court cases?). I really do question the reason for such aggressive action but I am not a supporter of Bundy.

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  • ontApril 25, 2014 - 2:57 pm

    “...Obama played the next move through the BLM with a land grab of his own, going after a 90 year-old cattle rancher in Nevada” --------------------------------------------------------- Oops, your blind Obama hatred bit you in the a s s on this one. You can always claim you were stoned when you wrote that. Even Mitt Romney would be impressed with your backpeddlin’180 from “Obama/BLM land grab” to “not enough information.” So shocking that a government-hating, taxpayer-stiffing, gun nut republican would be a racist.

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  • ontApril 25, 2014 - 7:00 pm

    Removal of Syrian Chemicals Passes 86% of Total ------- opcw.org/news/article/removal-of-syrian-chemicals-passes-86-of-total/

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  • Neutral citizenApril 25, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    Good morning ONT, up early today! Yes, this was anti-Obama satire. No real statement on Bundy. He was just convenient for the joke.

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  • ontApril 25, 2014 - 6:57 pm

    Should you be posting at this late hour? Denny’s doesn’t have an endless supply of your Early Bird Special prune juice you know. My oversight not realizing that your criticism of President Obama for a “land grab” was hilarious comedy. Sean Hannity, Rand Paul, Dean Heller and other notable Republicans also were just joking with their support of the welfare rancher and his armed band of loser insurrectionists. The republican politician who said "Don't come here with guns and expect the American people not to fire back”, not sure if they were joking. But you were probably joking when you wrote that using federal law enforcement officers to enforce federal laws was among other things, “stupid.” The meaning of law and order, Republican-style, is becoming more clear to me... it means Republicans obey the laws they like and feel benefit them, while ignoring the laws they dislike, and threatening violence against law enforcement if they dare to hold them accountable. Of course if they get hurt breaking the law they are patriotic victims of the oppressive government and Faux will gleefully call it “Obama’s Waco!!!!” You can learn so much about accountability and freedumb, watching these republicans.

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  • Greg JohnsonApril 25, 2014 - 7:19 pm

    Law and order Obama-style is changing a law 38 times without the approval of congress, "phone and pen", IRS targeting, NSA spying, and sending hundreds of armed federal agents to deal with a senile rancher and a bunch of yahoos. The truth is the federal government is out of control. I was talking a few days ago to a guy who was a career green beret (dedicated his life to the service of this country) and feels the federal government is too big and intrusive. I work with retired military every week and they think the same. The Denny's crack was kind of cute but, although I'm bordering senior status, I'll bet I'm in better shape than you, especially my lungs. So smoke you bong, watch msNBC, and see your version of God!

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