US President Barack Obama has said Russia was on the “wrong side of history” and its invasion in Ukraine was an attack on sovereignty of a nation, warning that he was considering economic and diplomatic options to punish Moscow if it didn’t reverse course quickly.
Obama asserted that America’s interest was in seeing the Ukrainian people be able to determine their own destiny.
“My interest is seeing the Ukrainian people be able to determine their own destiny,” Obama told White House reporters in a joint press availability with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Russia has strong historic ties to the Ukraine…There are strong commercial ties between those two countries. And so all of those interests I think can be recognized. But 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,” he said.
Asserting that the US and its global partners were supportive of the interim Ukrainian government, Obama said “the strong condemnation that it has received from countries around the world indicates the degree to which Russia is on the wrong side of history on this.”
Secretary of State John Kerry will be travelling to Kiev to indicate the US support for the Ukrainian people, to offer very specific and concrete packages of economic aid — because one of the things the US concerned about is stabilising the economy even in the midst of this crisis, he said.
“What we are also indicating to the Russians is that if, in fact, they continue on the current trajectory that they’re on, that 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 its status,” he said.
“We’ve already suspended preparations for the G8 summit. I think you can expect that there would be further follow-up on that. We are taking a look a whole range of issues that John Kerry mentioned on Monday,” Obama said.
Obama said that he spent the weekend talking to leaders across Europe.
“I think the world is largely united in recognising that the steps Russia has taken are a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, Ukraine’s territorial integrity; that they’re a violation of international law; they’re a violation of previous agreements that Russia has made with respect to how it treats and respects its neighbours,” he said.
“And, as a consequence, we got strong statements from NATO, from the G7, condemning the actions that Russia has taken. We are going to continue these diplomatic efforts during the course of this week,” he added.
“The question for the Russian government generally is if their concern is the rights of all Ukrainians are respected, if, in fact, their primary concern, as they’ve stated, is continued…