President Obama addressed the situation between Ukraine and Russia before his meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sanctions against Russia are on the table.
“There are two paths that Russia can take at this point,” he said. “Actions on the ground in Crimea are deeply troubling, but what is also true is that over time this will be a costly proposition for Russia. Now is the time to consider whether they can further their interests with diplomacy as opposed to force.”
On Sunday, a US official said Russia is in complete control of Crimea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine. Last week, gunmen and Russian soldiers seized Crimean government buildings and its international airport. On Saturday, Russian soldiers surrounded two Ukrainian military bases, which prompted Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatnesiuk to order full military mobilization.
To tighten its control, Russia took over a ferry terminal in Crimea, which is only twelve miles from Russia’s shore.
Obama said his administration is exploring economic and diplomatic solutions:
“At this point we’re not just considering sanctions, given the action Russia is taking,” said Jen Psaki, the State Department’s press secretary. “It is likely that we will put those in place and we are preparing that right now.”
Officials from the US Treasury and State Department were understood to be drafting possible visa travel bans and asset freezes that would be presented to US president Barack Obama in the coming hours. “We are likely moving down that path as things proceed,” Psaki said. “We are far more forward on this than we were even yesterday.”