President Obama Addresses the Situation in Ukraine

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 20, 2014
President Obama Delivers a Statement on Ukraine, March 20, 2014

Today, President Barack Obama delivered a statement on the situation in Ukraine and outlined the steps the United States is taking in response.  President Obama said:

"Over the last several days, we’ve continued to be deeply concerned by events in Ukraine.  We've seen an illegal referendum in Crimea; an illegitimate move by the Russians to annex Crimea; and dangerous risks of escalation, including threats to Ukrainian personnel in Crimea and threats to southern and eastern Ukraine as well.  These are all choices that the Russian government has made -- choices that have been rejected by the international community, as well as the government of Ukraine.  And because of these choices, the United States is today moving, as we said we would, to impose additional costs on Russia.

"Based on the executive order that I signed in response to Russia’s initial intervention in Ukraine, we’re imposing sanctions on more senior officials of the Russian government.  In addition, we are today sanctioning a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence who provide material support to the Russian leadership, as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals.

"Now, we’re taking these steps as part of our response to what Russia has already done in Crimea.  At the same time, the world is watching with grave concern as Russia has positioned its military in a way that could lead to further incursions into southern and eastern Ukraine.  For this reason, we’ve been working closely with our European partners to develop more severe actions that could be taken if Russia continues to escalate the situation.

"As part of that process, I signed a new executive order today that gives us the authority to impose sanctions not just on individuals but on key sectors of the Russian economy.  This is not our preferred outcome.  These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the Russian economy, but could also be disruptive to the global economy.  However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.  The basic principles that govern relations between nations in Europe and around the world must be upheld in the 21st century.  That includes respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity -- the notion that nations do not simply redraw borders, or make decisions at the expense of their neighbors simply because they are larger or more powerful.

"One of our other top priorities continues to be providing assistance to the government of Ukraine so it can stabilize its economy and meet the basic needs of the Ukrainian people.  As I travel to Europe next week to meet with the G7 and other European and Asian allies, I once again urge Congress to pass legislation that is necessary to provide this assistance -- and do it right away.  Expressions of support are not enough.  We need action.  I also hope that the IMF moves swiftly to provide a significant package of support for Ukrainians as they pursue reforms.

"In Europe, I’ll also be reinforcing a message that Vice President Biden carried to Poland and the Baltic states this week:  America’s support for our NATO allies is unwavering.  We’re bound together by our profound Article 5 commitment to defend one another, and by a set of shared values that so many generations sacrificed for.  We’ve already increased our support for our Eastern European allies, and we will continue to strengthen NATO’s collective defense, and we will step up our cooperation with Europe on economic and energy issues as well.

"Let me close by making a final point.  Diplomacy between the United States and Russia continues.  We’ve emphasized that Russia still has a different path available -- one that de-escalates the situation, and one that involves Russia pursuing a diplomatic solution with the government in Kyiv, with the support of the international community.  The Russian people need to know, and Mr. Putin needs to understand that the Ukrainians shouldn’t have to choose between the West and Russia.  We want the Ukrainian people to determine their own destiny, and to have good relations with the United States, with Russia, with Europe, with anyone that they choose.  And that can only happen if Russia also recognized the rights of all the Ukrainian people to determine their future as free individuals, and as a sovereign nation -- rights that people and nations around the world understand and support."

You can read the President's full remarks here.

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Comments

Aaron C.
|
Illinois, USA
March 20, 2014
What does the Crimea situation say about the future of maritime disputes within the Asia-Pacific region when the international community has such difficulty in preventing a large power from annexing territories not their own?
Edward C.
|
United States
March 21, 2014
President Obama has spent five years trampling on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one nation after the other, in addition to the eight years in which his predecessor did the same. Consequently, his comments sound absolutely ridiculous. The other thing which is particularly offensive about Obama's comments is the notion that the IMF should "swiftly provide a significant package of support for Ukrainians as they pursue reforms." Great -- that's the one thing that could make the life of Ukrainians more miserable, since "reforms" invariably means cuts in living standards in order to facilitate the further bailout of the bankrupt London-based financial system.
Michael T.
|
Texas, USA
March 25, 2014
If the US recognizes Kosovo and East Timor, we have to recognize the legitimacy of Crimean independence (and referendum). Once independence is recognized as legitimate, there is no choice but to acknowledge the right of the Crimean people to apply for inclusion into any other political entity, such as Russia, and the right of the political entity in question to accept or reject them. They might even have applied to become the 51-st state of the Union! It appears that there are no larger considerations, such as democracy or the rights of the people, at work. It is simply a matter of political expediency. For some reason, it suits the Administration's political interests to oppose Russia, and that is exactly what is happening. The interests and rights of Ukrainians or Crimeans have nothing to do with it.
Michael T.
|
Texas, USA
March 26, 2014
Annexing? Says who? We will never know what really happened there, and how much Russian pressure there was, if any. One could read news from several sources to see what is common to all of them but there are no truly disinterested or impartial reporters. Russian news agencies, for instance, are reporting that the entire situation in the Ukraine is being orchestrated by the CIA and that there is an entire floor of CIA intelligence analysts and operatives in the HQ of the Ukrainian Security Service. Some Ukrainian sources are saying the same thing. Who should we believe? I do not see that there is anyone trustworthy in this situation. Everyone seems to have a political agenda of one type or another. We should look at actions rather than words. If Russia is to blame, why did this not happen earlier (say, right after the USSR fell apart)? Why has Russia not provoked a referendum at the end of Yushchenko's term when a pro-Russian president took office in the Ukraine? Yanukovich could have pushed Crimean independence through the Ukrainian parliament in exchange for gas concessions if that was what Putin was really looking for, and Yanukovich could have made it look very legitimate for the West. A lot less international hassle for Russia, and no need to use troops at all. One would have to conclude that there was, in fact, quite a bit of push from the people in the Crimea to join Russia, and that Putin took advantage of the situation. We should also look at who benefits. Russia, undoubtedly, benefits by acquiring a choice piece of real estate like that (mostly, though, an advantage arises for various Russian businesses). The Russian Government also acquires a responsibility and a cost given that the Crimea is not a self-sustaining region and will have to depend on the central Government for subsidies. The Crimeans certainly benefit because Russian salaries and pensions, and, consequently, the standard of living, are higher than those is the Ukraine. I would say that Russia's desire to acquire the Crimea was 20% of the deal, and the Crimeans' desire to secede from the Ukraine (and to isolate themselves from Ukraine's current chaos and lawlessness) was 70% with other attendant circumstances accounting for the remaining 10%. History is also a valid source of information. The Crimea was Russian until 60 years ago when Khrushchev "gave" it to the Ukraine for no apparent reason. I would have to see stronger evidence before I believe this was entirely Russia's and Putin's idea.

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