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 globalsecurity.org, 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.

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by: Lara
March 02, 2014 1:01 AM
hope it'll serve lesson for Putin


by: miguel from: us
March 01, 2014 11:54 PM
All comments are childish Russia would have none of it the great desseption is starting to fall.


by: Mooo ha mad from: UK
March 01, 2014 11:24 PM
"US Has Few Options in Ukraine Crisis..." - and I bet the Kenyan Muslim apostate will f## each and every one of them... Incompetence on display for all the world to see... "yes, we can"... LOL


by: Buffalo from: Water
March 01, 2014 11:13 PM
The only way copy from Afghan war 20 years ago. Afghan defected Russia with out condition.


by: Greg Hogan from: Kyiv
March 01, 2014 10:58 PM
Excuses are for losers. The USA, and NATO have plenty of options. No fly zone is one whereby NATO or the USA control the skies to prevent further escalation. Don't be fooled by cold war thinking and current PR: Russia's military is weak. If the west refuses to answer now, they will be forced to answer later with a much higher cost

In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
March 02, 2014 11:27 PM
The USA and the EU have very limited options because Russia is a great nuclear power. the US and NATO's No fly zone means nothing to Russia because Russia can also establish its own No fly zone to prevent western airforce from entering Ukraine air space. Even if the US and the EU have some options they will certainly face with Russian retaliations. Crimea was Russian territory and was separated from Russia ilegally to merge into Ukraine in 1954 by an Ukrainian Soviet leader against the will of the majority of its population. It is high time for Crimea to be returned to Russia!

In Response

by: BG from: Kiev
March 02, 2014 3:25 PM
Wishful thinking. US is a paper tiger itself. It has yet to face a peer competitor in action. Fighting wars in 3rd world states does not a make a world class army.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
March 02, 2014 1:52 AM
Funny, America is weaker and retreating from Afghanistan! Russia on the other hand is getting richer these years.
Most important Russia got one ally, China!
Any way those Ukrainian mobs deposed their legitimate elected president by violence, they deserve punishment!


by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
March 01, 2014 9:45 PM
Saying Crimea has been successfully invaded by Russia without war, the influential Israeli newspaper Haaretz editors write they want retaliation: more blood and violence in Syria as illustrated by their remark that "Western leaders, Obama in particular, have another avenue for hurting Putin: They can lift restrictions on shipping advanced weaponry to the rebels in Syria and expand their support of training camps for the Free Syrian Army in Jordan. This, in cooperation with the Saudis, who in recent weeks have greatly enlarged their shipments of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to the rebels."


by: David Kolberg from: Vancouver, WA
March 01, 2014 8:45 PM
I have never seen sanctions that work against the rulers of any nation, and I do not expect that I will see sanctions personally against Putin, no matter how badly he behaves. They always fall on the people.


by: Gennady from: Russia. Volga Region
March 01, 2014 8:36 PM
The best sanction the USA can impose in the crisis is to freeze Mr Putin’s multibillion offshore assets. Russian people are delighted to hear this. How can any true patriotically minded person hold all his life “savings” hidden from his Russian compatriots? To lose his fortunes will be unbearable to him. Certainly, he has accumulated “savings” in his preparedness to flee Russia on the pattern of the ousted Ukrainian President. They are berries of the same sort. The Russian are known to slow harness their horses but riding them fast. After the announcement of the USA sanction, I’m sure there won’t be any military intervention for he can lose Crimea but can’t lose his billions.


by: ZippyZion from: USA
March 01, 2014 8:35 PM
So the US response will either be:

"I don't like what you are doing so I'm not talking to you!"
or
"I don't like what you are doing so you can't have my stuff and I'm keeping the stuff I have of yours!"

Way to go Obama. The US doesn't seem like a weak pouting child at all.

If I were running the show we would have operation Chrome Dome back into effect and move naval fleets into the region as well as moving nuclear submarines into key locations from which we can launch on Russia. We don't need to drop bombs or fire rifles to show Russia we are ready and willing to abide by our defense treaties but waving a finger and acting like a spoiled child will not deter Putin. He sees the US as weak and lacking resolve.

In Response

by: Alis from: RF
March 04, 2014 9:53 AM
People, calm down! Nebudet nor any war. Russian soldiers will not win the Crimea and Ukraine to win and certainly our submarines do not swim to Washington! Do not panic and do not succumb to the propaganda media. You'd better pay attention to the rampant neo-Nazism in Europe, CIS and USA. these groups exploited by dishonest and dirty hands on people. Let's just say no to all the world of media and politics, extend a hand of friendship and Throw prejudices.

In Response

by: VeritasJKrump from: Virginia
March 02, 2014 9:50 AM
1) Go Active on Russia with full blown Cyber attack, and go to us forces to DEFCON 3
2) Ohio Class boomer subs to bastion
3) Carrier Battle group to eastern Med
4) B-52s to Aviano, Disperse fighter Wing from Aviano to Ankara, move KC-135 Tankers Incirlik, increase E-3A AWACS sorties over Turkey
5) Global Hawk flights over the Black Sea
6) B-2s to alert status with nuclear loadouts
7) Targeting data to MMIII LCCs

oh wait...we cannot afford any of that anymore...I guess we can call Putin complain a bit and then say we are "watching" with the rest of the world...oh and NASCAR is on today too.

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
March 02, 2014 1:57 AM
Child, Russia has plenty nuke subs too. I guaranty they are already in position to attack America.
America is having tail in legs retreating from Afghanistan. It s gonna learn the pain for a while.

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