Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to allow international
monitors to mediate a deal in Ukraine acceptable to all Ukrainian
people, Obama told reporters before he met with Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The U.S. is weighing its response to Russia's so far bloodless
incursion into Crimea. Despite an international outcry, Putin has
shown little sign of backing down, and Russia has built up armored
vehicle presence near Crimea and staged military maneuvers in what
appears to be a show of strength.
"Over time this will be a costly proposition for Russia. And now is
the time for them to consider whether they can serve their interests
in a way that resorts to diplomacy as opposed to force," Obama said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will propose ways in which a
negotiation between Russia and Ukraine could be overseen by a
multilateral organization when he goes to Kiev on Tuesday, Obama
said. Kerry will also offer an economic aid package for Ukraine, the
In the meantime, the United States is preparing to impose sanctions
on Russia over the intervention although no decisions have yet been
made, the State Department said. State Department spokeswoman Jen
Psaki said the United States has a broad range of options.
Obama met with his national security team for more than two hours
late on Tuesday to discuss ways to "further isolate" Russia, a White
House official said.
The group discussed ways to "reinforce that the Russians still have
an opportunity to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation
or they face further political and economic repercussions from the
international community," the official said about the meeting.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration put trade and investment talks
with Russia on hold.
"We have suspended upcoming bilateral trade and investment
engagement with the government of Russia that were part of a move
toward deeper commercial and trade ties," a spokesman for the Office
of the U.S. Trade Representative said.
That move will affect a meeting planned in Washington with Russian,
U.S., EU and Kazakhstan officials about Kazakhstan's accession to
the World Trade Organization. Russia and the EU would now not take
U.S. discussions with Russia on "model bilateral investment
treaties" would also be suspended, an official said.
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In her daily briefing, Psaki also said that if reports that Russia
has threatened Ukraine's military in the Crimea with attack are
true, this would be a "dangerous escalation" of the situation.
As the administration sought to rally international pressure against
Russia, U.S. lawmakers were considering imposing sanctions on
Russia's banks and freezing assets of Russian public institutions
and private investors in response to events in Ukraine, one U.S.
The lawmaker, Democrat Chris Murphy, warned that in order to be
effective, U.S. sanctions would need to be matched by similar moves
"If the United States shuts its economic doors to Russia and Europe
leaves its doors open, there won't be much change in behavior from
Moscow," he told Reuters.
Obama has been criticized by opposition party Republicans for not
being strong enough in his response to the Ukraine crisis.
The president called on lawmakers to unite behind an aid package for
the embattled eastern European country.
"When it comes to preserving the principle that no country has the
right to send in troops to another country unprovoked, we should be
able to come up with a unified position," he said.
At the Obama administration's request, members of both the Senate
and House of Representatives are working on legislation to support
U.S. loan guarantees for Ukraine, congressional aides said.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal, Roberta Rampton, Matt Spetalnick,
Lesley Wroughton, Patricia Zengerle, and Jeff Mason; editing by Ken
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