President Barack Obama said Monday that if Russia continues an incursion into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, the United States would take diplomatic and economic steps to “isolate” the country.
Speaking to reporters in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama said that invading the Ukrainian territory was a “violation of international law” that puts Russian President Vladimir Putin “on the wrong side of history.”
“What cannot be done is for Russia with impunity to put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles that are recognized around the world,” Obama said. Qualifying his threat on Friday that “there will be costs” for a Russian invasion, the president added, “Over time this will be a costly proposition for Russia.”
“If in fact they continue on the current trajectory they’re on, then we are examining a whole series of steps—economic, diplomatic—that will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on Russia’s economy and status in the world,” Obama said.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that it was “likely” the United States and allies would pursue sanctions against Russia. “At this point we’re not just considering sanctions, given the actions Russia is taking,” she said. “It is likely that we will put those in place, and we are preparing that right now.”
American officials conceded Sunday that Russian military forces now have “complete operational control” of the Crimean peninsula, the home of Russia’s Black Sea naval base, a day after Putin won the approval of his parliament to invade Ukraine.
Obama called on Congress to swiftly approve an aid package for the fledgling Ukrainian government. “I would hope that would be the first order of business,” when Congress reconvenes for votes later this week, Obama said, adding he hoped the issue would be “outside of partisanship.”