US President Barack Obama delved into a day of delicate diplomacy Monday as he sought to rally the international community around efforts to isolate Russia following its incursion into Ukraine.
Hours after arriving in the Netherlands for a nuclear summit, Obama held one-on-one talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. China has often sided with Russia in disputes with the West, but US officials have been appealing to Beijing’s well-known opposition to outside interference in other nation’s domestic affairs.
Obama’s meeting with Xi opened a week of international travel where Russia’s Crimean incursion tops the agenda. After arriving in the Netherlands, Obama asserted that the US and Europe stand together behind Ukraine’s government as he met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
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“We’re united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far,” Obama said.
No issue commands more of Obama’s and Europe’s attention than Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the fear that Moscow could decide to expand further into Ukraine. But Obama also is attempting to use his weeklong trip to personally reconnect not only with Europe but Asia and the Middle East, all strategically crucial regions with their own tensions and qualms about the US.