News / Europe

US Has Few Options in Ukraine Crisis

President Barack Obama pauses during speech at the general session of the Democratic National Committee meeting, Washington, Feb. 28, 2014.
President Barack Obama pauses during speech at the general session of the Democratic National Committee meeting, Washington, Feb. 28, 2014.
Kent Klein
The White House says President Barack Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone for 90 minutes Saturday.

A written statement says the president told Putin sending Russian troops into Ukraine is a clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and a breach of international law.

Obama called on the Russian leader to withdraw his forces to bases in Crimea and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine.

The president said Russia's actions would hurt its standing in the international community, echoing a warning he issued on Friday, when the White House threatened costs for Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.

“Indeed the United States will stand with the international community in affirming there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine," Obama said.

Russia's upper house of parliament recommended Saturday that President Putin recall the Russian ambassador from Washington.

Many U.S. experts agree that President Obama's options are limited. They say he is not seriously considering using force, although he is said to have talked with advisers about the idea of moving warships to the region.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and the Western alliance is not required to come to its defense.

Economic options appear more likely. One possibility is for the U.S. to impose sanctions on Russia's financial institutions.

Tim Brown, senior fellow at, says another is to freeze Russian leaders' offshore bank accounts.

"It's almost certain that Putin has a large, or several large, bank accounts of his own, and I would imagine that those are going to get frozen," Brown said. "So when they say there are going to be costs, it's not going to be to the Russian people. It's more along the lines it's going to be the Russian leadership personally."

Saturday's White House statement said the president told Putin the U.S. would suspend its participation in preparatory meetings for the Group of Eight (G8) summit, which is scheduled for June in Sochi. Obama and his aides are reported to have discussed canceling his trip to the summit altogether, or even kicking Russia out of the G8.

Scrapping a possible trade agreement with Moscow may be another alternative.

U.S. leverage is diminished by the need for Russia's help in negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran and working to end Syria's war. Also, the U.S. uses Russian supply routes to move troops and equipment out of Afghanistan.

So far, the possible costs have not been enough to discourage Putin from sending Russian troops to Ukraine.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
March 03, 2014 3:04 AM
Few options in a diplomatic sense means nothing much can and will be done ,another example of the UN inability to handle the 21st century issues with the increase of Russian arrogance, Russia will absorb territories in Ukraine and their is noting the West can do about it.

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
March 03, 2014 12:15 AM
We are urging the Obama administration and his allies to work in an agreement, to bring this Putin aggression to an end. The people of Ukraine needs to determine their faith. not Mr. Putin. The US and its allies should and must respond to Mr. Putin aggression. who does he thinks he is? Beside that Nuclear weapon, there is not Russia can do to America. And If Russia waste their Nuclear weapon on the US, so help us God, The US will do the same and more. So Mr. Putin needs to calm down. We stand with Mr. Obama in any military action to bring about peace and stability in Ukraine. The world needs to know by this time, Mr. Putin is the number one outstanding figure today in the world who stands against peace. And peace must prevail. There are more good people than bad people, there are lot more good people than bad people, and it time for the good people to win. God Bless America, God Bless President Obama, may God give him wisdom in this present crisis.

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
March 02, 2014 11:23 PM
This is a standoff. And Putin hostility must be put to an end. we strongly condemn Mr. Putin act towards Ukraine We are calling on the Russian people back home, in the US and around the world to condemn what is wrong and stand for the true. Mr. Putin is playing with fire, He is starting something that he cannot end. War is the most important option on the table, and the US needs to teach Mr. Putin a lesson. The US is the world super power and advanced nation when it comes to technology. The whole entire world is learning from our technology, stealing our blueprint, trying to be like the US. China, Russia Iran etc, all America friends and enemies have learned from the US. In technology, the US is far better off than any country in the world, as we speak. In a modern world, China just gotten her first aircraft carrier.hahaha, Mr. Putin needs to reconsider his decision, or else Russia will face a hard punishment from the US and the world leaders. Mr. Putin tear down that war

by: Jack from: US
March 02, 2014 10:32 PM
New Ukrainian interim president is a Tatar-Mongol appointed by Washington

by: David H from: Las Cruces NM, USA
March 02, 2014 4:46 PM
What if the USA had military base in another country and all the soldiers had their families living off base and a huge support system of non military personnel and military personnel working on that base, with military hardware, ships, planes, the list goes on and there was a take over of country the USA would do the same thing to protect its interests. There is a reason for the other things and not to take over Ukraine. Media needs to back off. It's not right but what can you do?

by: Jack from: US
March 02, 2014 1:25 PM
The Ukraine is $160-200bil in debt, it is bankrupt and about to collapse. Whoever "wins" in the Ukraine, Putin or NATO, would have to pick the tab

by: Sergey from: Russia
March 02, 2014 10:48 AM
US has only one option - to bomb. Your external policy is always the same - bomb, kill people, support extremists... "well done" in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Nagasaki, Vietnam... "very good track record" your mamas sure are "proud" for you...
In Response

by: Lasha from: Georgia
March 03, 2014 11:53 AM
Have a look at Russia`s own record: north and south caucasus, afghanistan, whole eastern europe. And several wars and revolutions supported by USSR in Africa, South and central america and southeast asia.

by: Doug from: Canada
March 02, 2014 10:27 AM
As unfortunate as this situation is we must keep out for its in the backyard of Russia and they have had a strategic interest in that region for centuries.Let me give you this
same analogy.If the Canadian governemnt was overthrown in
a coup by hostile forces the United States would do whatever was necessary including military intervention to protect her own strategic interests and also to protect Americans living here for we are their backyard.
In Response

by: Sergey from: Ruusia
March 03, 2014 12:34 AM
to Doug: I completely agree with you, the same analogy works for the Ukrainian's case - we have more that 150 000 refugees from Uktaine over last 1-2 weeks. People have been persequted by the ukrainian nazis because they speak russian language and do not support the new illegime government. They really suffer! This sitution was mostly provocated by the EU sopporting opposition which is represented not only by "democrats" (worth to say, with very questionable reputation) but by radicals as well...we here in Russia are very worried of the situation developing this way and wouldn't like any kind of militar conflict, allmost all of us share the same values with you... but we support our President and the Russian government in their decision to defend our people in the case of any extreme situation as the west is not able to react timely and adequately, considering all the factors and all the parts of the Ukranian's population...

by: Lu from: PRC
March 02, 2014 9:32 AM
No one except Pudin dictator who dominates a country so long and he neglects peoples lifes so easy. Maybe for backhands or other dirty bargains with asian countries, he is really need be eliminated from policy.

by: Bearman from: U.S.A.
March 02, 2014 8:17 AM
Another sever finger wagging from Obama added to toothless threats. How has that worked with Syria?
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs

Day in Photos

A dog, with his fur dyed green and wearing antlers made out of red fabric, poses for a photograph before participating in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in El Paso, Texas, United States, Nov. 26, 2015.

A dog, with his fur dyed green and wearing antlers made out of red fabric, poses for a photograph before participating in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in El Paso, Texas, United States, Nov. 26, 2015.