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Obama tries to rally world to isolate Russia

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - President Barack Obama gathered with world leaders in a day of delicate diplomacy, as he sought to rally the international community Monday around efforts to isolate Russia following its incursion into Ukraine.

Nuclear terrorism was the official topic as Obama and other world leaders streamed in to a convention center in The Hague for a two-day nuclear summit. But the real focus was on a hurriedly scheduled meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized economies to address the crisis in Ukraine on the sidelines of the nuclear summit.

The U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan were to participate - but not Russia. Discussion among Obama and his G-7 counterparts will center on economic aid to Ukraine, while at the same time seeking to segregate Putin from the exclusive group, which Russia usually joins in Group of Eight meetings.

In a show of western solidarity, Obama declared shortly after arriving in the Netherlands on Monday morning that the U.S. and Europe stand together behind Ukraine.

"We're united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far," Obama said after meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters the G-7 meeting was aimed at foreshadowing "what economic sanctions Russia will be faced with if it continues down this course." He said the countries also would discuss international efforts to assist the fledgling Ukrainian government, as well as what the G-7's relationship with Russia will be if the current standoff continues.

However, Rhodes indicated that the U.S. and other nations were not prepared to formally kick Russia out of the Group of Eight. "The door is open to Russia to deescalate the situation," he said.

Rhodes said that while the G-7 would not levy joint sanctions on behalf of the alliance, the goal was to have individual members coordinate their approach as they levy future penalties. "We would like to see a steady ratcheting up of that pressure," he said.

Obama also sought to coax support one of Moscow's closest allies as he met one-on-one talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. China has often sided with Russia in disputes with the West, but U.S. officials have been appealing to Beijing's well-known opposition to outside interference in another nation's domestic affairs.

Obama treaded carefully in statements with Xi before their meeting, saying only that they planned to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

"I believe ultimately, that by working together, China and the United States can help strengthen international law and respect for the sovereignty of nations and establish the kind of rules internationally that allow all peoples to thrive," Obama said in a subtle appeal for Chinese support.

China, a frequent Russian ally, abstained a week ago from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution declaring Crimea's secession referendum illegal. With Russia vetoing the measure and the 13 other council members voting in favor, China's abstention served to isolate Moscow internationally.

The long-planned nuclear summit kicked off with a highly theatrical opening ceremony, plus an announcement that Japan would turn over to the U.S. more than 700 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium and a supply of highly-enriched uranium, a victory for Obama's efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world.

But no issue commands more of Obama's and Europe's attention than Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the fear that Moscow could decide to expand further into Ukraine.

Obama also is attempting to use his weeklong trip to personally reconnect not only with Europe but Asia and the Middle East, all strategically crucial regions with their own tensions and qualms about the U.S.

On Tuesday, Obama plans a joint meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, a session preceded by a sit-down with Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the richest emirate in the United Arab Emirates federation.

In an interview with the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant published before he arrived Monday, Obama says his message to European leaders is that Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to "understand the economic and political consequences of his actions in Ukraine."

Still, he said he does not view Europe as a battleground between the East and the West. "That's the kind of thinking that should have ended with the Cold War," he said. "On the contrary, it's important that Ukraine have good relations with the United States, Russia, and Europe."

More broadly, the Ukraine crisis will test Obama's ability to forge a unified and forceful stance against Russia from European leaders who are alarmed by Putin's moves but whose economies are dependent on Russian energy and trade.

In the interview, Obama conceded that the sanctions he has threatened against Russian economic sectors could have worldwide impacts.

But, he added: "If Russia continues to escalate the situation, we need to be prepared to impose a greater cost."

Join the discussion

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paulaeyris March 24 2014 at 4:46 PM


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joelknowlton March 24 2014 at 2:42 PM

If you like your country you can keep your country PERIOD!........NO wait

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Hi David March 24 2014 at 4:53 PM

don't piss of about works and money here.......... prepare far war and to protect USA...
do not forget who you are and you ancestors were...

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1 reply
kcarthey Hi David March 24 2014 at 4:58 PM

I remember that I, my brother, my dad and numerous ancestors going back well before the Revolution were vets. We also remember that many who served had no opportunity to be ancestors. You, David, are a war mongering fool and likely a chicken hawk.

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oneman689 March 24 2014 at 4:54 PM

Poor Vladamir Putin...he is being spanked by the community organizer. I would guess Putin is laughing.

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1 reply
macmonica oneman689 March 24 2014 at 5:28 PM

Obama is being suckered in, manipulated by NATO, EU crybabies in DEBT. Guess what, WE are now going to pay off a MASSIVE DEBT of the UKRAINE, over 350 BILLION BUCKS!!!! Putin got rid of a Welfare, corrupt NATION, a Nation that cant give guns to Soldiers defending a Airbase, Naval base!! are you kidding me?

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sandrakaywinter March 24 2014 at 2:40 PM

I would love to have a conversation on this board without having to wade through the work-at-home ads. It was bad enough people used to post one. Now the same poster does multiples.

Please, AOL, ban these posters from all the boards.

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jakpot60 March 24 2014 at 3:01 PM

Say what? Obama can't rally anyone except basketball jocks. LOL

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1 reply
ovidp jakpot60 March 24 2014 at 3:12 PM

How unfortunately true

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pty014372 March 24 2014 at 4:55 PM

It's sad that Obama thinks he is relevant. The EU response to Putin will 100% follow Mrs. Merkel's lead. Luckily, she is a strong and forceful leader.

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1 reply
macmonica pty014372 March 24 2014 at 5:23 PM

Good point, Merkel grew up in East Germany, can TALK, UNDERSTAND Putin, she has insight into the man, and I feel that PUTIN respects her, likes her. Why did NSA with Obama's direction, SPY on her? Because of her being able to talk plainly to Putin. Germany will always need Russia, be it selfish economic reasons, they need Russias RAW materials.

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mobeck March 24 2014 at 4:55 PM

The US is in a divided downward death spiral. Yet he continues to cock his arrogant head and lecture everybody. Putin kicked sand in the Metrosexual's face.

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2 replies
vobox3343 mobeck March 24 2014 at 5:13 PM

Then it sounds like Russia is the place for you - Heave Ho?

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macmonica mobeck March 24 2014 at 5:49 PM

I agree with you, Obama thinks this is Photo-Shoot, Hollywood Movie, he is disconnected from the World, Putin has called NATO'S, EU UN bluff, like Conan- "Enough Talk" He acts. Whether you like his calls, at least he makes a decision, USA only makes "Press Conferencies". If you notice WE, EU Yapping, Yapping like old ladies, Men on Park Benches, wherein Putin says NOTHING, ACTS! the old adage of Talk is cheap, do something. USA is embroiled, obsessed with TALKING, DEBATING, etc, Congress, White House act like 2 IVY LEAGUE debating teams, not Leaders of the World.

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msdaubie54 March 24 2014 at 4:55 PM

Obama, keep your nose, and the nose of this nation, out of Russia. I would think you have enough to handle on the home-front and could stay out of whatever Russia is doing. Russia is not afraid of your sanctions! Wouldn't it be nice to spend your last about year and a half in office doing what you were supposed to be doing all along: listening to the citizens of our great country instead of running it into the ground? What a concept!!

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sandrakaywinter March 24 2014 at 2:35 PM

Putin does not strike me as a man who would back down because other countries tell him to. His country is in turmoil--economically, socially--and he does not have control over those issues. It is far more likely that internal pressure will cause him to change course. He may back down, but he’ll announce he won, at the same time.

He's too fond of putting on a big show with himself at the center. That spectacle of him addressing his minions last week was one such show. There will have to be a scenario where he saves face and backs down at the same time.

Universal, economic sanctions may be so severe that his country is crippled. Still, he would never admit that affected any decision. I am guessing that even backing down will be a spectacle.

I have long thought he seeks conflict, in order to place himself at the center as a "great leader," which he is not. Is he ego maniacal? Most certainly.

He's the P.T. Barnum of Russia, but with nuclear weapons. That's a dangerous combination.

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1 reply
userpat7248 sandrakaywinter March 24 2014 at 2:44 PM

The our president and Putin should get along well, since they are botthe same only out for themselves. But the difference and Obama knows this and it ticks him off is that Putin is smarther than he his.

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