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US prepares tough response for Russia over Ukraine

US Prepares Tough Response For Russia Over Ukraine

AP National Security Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Western powers on Sunday prepared a tough response to Russia's military advance into Ukraine and warned that Moscow could face economic penalties, diplomatic isolation and bolstered allied defenses in Europe unless it retreats.

The crisis may prove to be a game-changer for President Barack Obama's national security policy, forcing him to give up his foreign policy shift to Asia and to maintain U.S. troop levels in Europe to limit Russia's reach.

The ill will and mistrust also could spill over on two other global security fronts - Syria and Iran - where Russia has been a necessary partner with the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave no indication that he would heed the West's warnings. Hundreds of armed men surrounded a Ukrainian military base in Crimea, a pro-Russian area. In Kiev, Ukraine's capital, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk alerted allies that "we are on the brink of disaster."

Senior Obama administration officials said they believe Russia now has complete operational control over Crimea and has more than 6,000 forces in the region. The U.S. was also watching for ethnic skirmishes in other areas of eastern Ukraine, though the officials said they had not yet seen Russian military moves elsewhere. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the situation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Secretary of State John Kerry said he has consulted with other world leaders, and "every single one of them are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia with respect to this invasion." President Barack Obama spoke Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.

Kerry planned to travel to Kiev Tuesday for meetings with the Ukrainian government. Officials said the Obama administration would also focus this week on putting together a package of economic assistance for Ukraine.

In Brussels, NATO's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said Russia's actions have violated a U.N. charter. He said the alliance was re-evaluating its relationship with Russia.

"There are very serious repercussions that can flow out of this," Kerry said.

Beyond economic sanctions and visa bans, freezing Russian assets, and trade and investment penalties, Kerry said Moscow risks being booted out of the powerful Group of Eight group of world powers as payback for the military incursion.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told a Washington audience on Sunday that the United States is ready to work with other countries and the International Monetary Fund to provide support to bolster Ukraine's economy. He said he had been assured in discussions with Ukrainian officials that the new government is prepared to pursue the necessary reforms to overhaul the country's ailing economy.

Lew said that the administration was ready to supplement emergency IMF loans to cushion the impact economic reforms would have on vulnerable Ukrainians.

"The United States is prepared to work with its bilateral and multilateral partners to provide as much support as Ukraine needs to restore financial stability and return to economic growth if the new government implements the necessary reforms," Lew said during a speech Sunday night to the annual policy conference of AIPAC, America's largest pro-Israel lobbying group.

Several U.S. senators also called for bolstered missile defense systems based in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Russia is "going to be inviting major difficulties for the long term," said Kerry. "The people of Ukraine will not sit still for this. They know how to fight."

Still, it was clear that few in the West were prepared to respond immediately to Putin with military force.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis used his traditional Sunday midday appearance in St. Peter's Square to urge world leaders to promote dialogue as a way of resolving the crisis in Ukraine.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., discussing the potential of U.S. military strikes against Russian troops in Crimea, said, "I don't think anyone is advocating for that." One of the administration officials indicated that the U.S. was not weighing military action to counter Russia's advances, saying the Obama administration's efforts were focused on political, economic and diplomatic options.

Rubio said it would be difficult to rein in Moscow. He said Putin has "made a cost-benefit analysis. He has weighed the costs of doing what he's done, and ... clearly he has concluded that the benefits far outweigh the costs. We need to endeavor to change that calculus."

As a starter, Rubio and fellow GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the Obama administration should return to plans it abandoned in 2009 to place long-range missile interceptors and radar in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Russia believed the program was aimed at countering its own missiles and undermining its nuclear deterrent. The White House denied that and has worked instead to place medium-range interceptors in Poland and Romania - aimed at stopping missiles from Iran and North Korea.

Experts said potential U.S. budget cuts to Army units based in Germany also could be slowed, or scrapped completely, to prevent a catastrophic erosion of stability and democracy from creeping across Europe.

The Pentagon is considering new reductions to Army units in Germany that already have been slashed under Obama. Currently, there are two Army brigades - up to 10,000 soldiers - based in Germany, where armored and infantry units have dug in since World War II. At the end of the Cold War, more than 200,000 American forces were stationed across Europe.

Damon Wilson, an Eastern European scholar, former diplomat and executive vice president of the Washington-based Atlantic Council think tank, said the U.S. must be ready to pour its efforts into Ukraine, even at the cost of policies and priorities elsewhere.

"We should be no longer deluded by the fact that Europe is a safe spot of stability and security, and not a security risk for the U.S.," Wilson said Sunday. He said that if Putin goes unchecked, it could result in war - the second one on NATO's borders.

The 3-year-old civil war in Syria is already a crisis for neighboring Turkey, a NATO member state. Ukraine is not a NATO member, but it borders four nations that are - Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

"This is the biggest challenge to Obama's presidency," Wilson said. "This is a pretty tectonic shift in our perception of European security."

Wilson said the White House may have to abandon the policy shift to Asia - its attempt to boost America's military, diplomatic and economic presence there - to refocus on Russia's threat.

He played down concerns that the new schism between Washington and Moscow will have an effect on efforts to end the war in Syria and limit Iran's nuclear program.

In Syria, Wilson said, Russia relied on a "bankrupt plan" in its failure to convince President Bashar Assad to embrace peace. "There's nothing happening there that's credible in a positive way,' he said.

With Iran, the bulk of negotiations already have been between the U.S. and Iran, said Wilson, who described Russia as mostly playing in the background.

Even so, officials said the U.S. and the West would not be able to roll over Russia on any number of global diplomatic or economic fronts.

Russia has made clear it is ready to provide weapons and military equipment to governments across the Mideast that have irked Washington. Russia's permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council gives it veto power over major world deliberations.

"The challenge is, we do need to have some kind of working relationship with Russia," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sunday. "And while we can impose these costs and take these steps, we've got to be mindful of the fact that they can impose their own costs on us."

Kerry appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation," ABC's "This Week" and NBC's "Meet the Press." Rubio was NBC, while Graham and Schiff were interviewed on CNN.

Join the discussion

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foubabou March 02 2014 at 8:17 PM


The headline says "US prepares a tough response....". But the first sentence says "Western powers on Sunday prepared a tough response....".

Looks like the media is trying to help Obama's image here.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
Dr. Analog March 02 2014 at 8:20 PM

Putin wants to create USSR v2.0. The world must collectively say hell-no.

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Mike March 02 2014 at 8:22 PM

Romney metioned this during the last election... Obama's reponse.."The Cold War is over... the '80's called and wanted the Cold War back"...nice.

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mobiusborgov March 02 2014 at 8:22 PM

So let me get this straight. The same government officials, who just days ago thought is was no big deal to vote to screw veterans out of benefits and assistance programs, are now clamoring for our brave men and women to get involved in another political conflict that serves no interest what so ever to America or it's people. I have a better idea let's take a page history, say I dunno, ancient Rome perhaps. When their senate was foolish enough to try and screw their veterans and military over their military would return to the very steps of the Roman senate to settle such matters. That being said, fair warning to our government you trained these brave men and women to know how to use strategies and weapons of mass destruction. Don't be surprised if one day soon they may wind up on your very door steps and we send you good congressmen and senators down-range on our behalf for once to solve the real problems of our great nation.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
proctorfarmer mobiusborgov March 02 2014 at 8:28 PM

History is also repeating itself in another way. Just like Mussolini invading Ethiopia in 1936 while USA and entire world sat on their ass. what became of that? Time to again wake up the sleeping giant, Only thing is this time it is due to stupidity of our own government

Flag Reply 0 rate up
BELMO mobiusborgov March 02 2014 at 8:43 PM

And the Screwing continues. Threat to close down commissaries, PXs, and reduce retirement pensions. Reduction in the number of active duty to pre WW 2 numbers by such practices as a denial of re-enlistment do to having a single "office hours" (NJP) during your career. I know of one Marine S/Sgt (E-6) who has been denied re-enlistment because he was given a non-Judicial punishment (NJP) for twice wearing his McMap Belt incorrectly when he was a Lance Corporal (E-3). The time frame between the NJP and now has to be well over 5 years during whih time the S/Sgt has been awarded two Bronze Stars w/V device and two Purple Hearts. I know a Gunnery Sgt. E-7 who was told he would have to retire because he had a blood Alcohol level of .03. He came back on base after eating dinner out in town where he had some wine with his dinner. The Gunny had 19 years of service to his credit. I also know a Sgt. (E-5) who has be a Marine for a little over 9 years and has seen 2 tours in Iraq (2005-2006 and 2008-2009) where he received a commendation for service above and beyond plus he served one tour in Afghanistan (2010-2011) , The Sgt. has been denied re-enlistment because he received an NJP over 5 years ago. His offense was being 2 days AWOL, but in reality he did not even go off base. He reported to the HQ office staff that he was checking out of the unit and had not even been off base. Note. At the time the Marine was in Okinawa at the time and had been overseas for over 2 years. He wanted to challenge it by allowing himself to be subject of a Court Marshall but, that would have meant staying overseas until the issue was resolved. In all cases every one of these Marines have never been in trouble before or after the incidents.

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george March 02 2014 at 8:23 PM

Putin and every other dictator no longer lives in fear of american reprisals for their inhumane actions. We can no longer project any military or major economic sanctions since we are in debt to "Red" China. A weakened military will serve to show the rest of the world that we cannot help them in any way but with words that cannot be backed up.

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1 reply
jacervinka george March 02 2014 at 8:29 PM

Obummer's plan all along........

Flag Reply +2 rate up
lewelsvc March 02 2014 at 8:24 PM

If Russia has broken the UN charter, they should be kicked off the Security Council. Then they lose their veto which is very important to them.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
goffin0 March 02 2014 at 8:27 PM

kerry should go back to the brown hole he came from !!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
kaib51 goffin0 March 02 2014 at 8:30 PM


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moose goffin0 March 02 2014 at 8:35 PM

Or , have You lead the way.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Paul March 02 2014 at 8:28 PM

There seems to be a pro Russian faction and an anti Russian faction in the Ukraine. Don't worry we will send some foreign aid instead of feeding the needy here.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
bettyvigdor March 02 2014 at 8:28 PM


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1 reply
thomas bettyvigdor March 02 2014 at 8:42 PM

speaking of WWII don't countries owe us mucho$$$$ that they never paid us back? thought so

Flag Reply +1 rate up
proctorfarmer March 02 2014 at 8:29 PM

Hillary, how is that RESET button working?

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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