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Obama Begins Tour Aimed at Isolating Russia

  • Luis Ramirez

President Barack Obama boards Air Force One before his departure from Andrews Air Force Base, Sunday, March 23, 2014.

President Barack Obama boards Air Force One before his departure from Andrews Air Force Base, Sunday, March 23, 2014.

President Barack Obama is in the Netherlands, his first stop on a tour aimed at isolating Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

Obama arrived at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport and headed for The Hague, to immediately begin meetings with allies and partners. Although Obama is in the Netherlands for the Nuclear Security Summit, the focus is clearly on the crisis in Ukraine.

The U.S. leader's aim is to build up support for more sanctions against Russia and economic aid for Ukraine's government.

In The Hague, Obama has called a meeting of G-7 leaders to coordinate a response to Russia's actions against Ukraine. Afterwards, he will travel to Brussels for meetings with European Union officials and NATO. Speaking at the White House last week, the president talked about his message for NATO allies.

“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,” said Obama.

Obama is also reaching beyond Europe to shore up support for his efforts on Russia. On the agenda in The Hague is a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In an unusual move, China has questioned Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Last Friday, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Moscow's interference in Ukraine is prompting a reassessment of U.S. relations with Russia. She said in the years after the Cold War, the international community tried to integrate Russia into what she said is the fabric of the international system and the global economy.

“But that was predicated on an expectation that Russia would play by the rules of the road, the economic and security rules of the road, international law, and the norms and principles that govern responsible international action. What we have seen in Ukraine is obviously a very egregious departure from that," said Rice.

President Obama's last stop in Europe will be Rome, for his first meeting with Pope Francis, to talk about fighting poverty and inequality.

After Rome, Obama will head to Saudi Arabia, where he will sit down with King Abdullah to talk about the war in Syria, the Iran nuclear negotiations and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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