L.A. Times: Obama says Russian moves in Crimea will be ‘costly’
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Monday warned that Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula will be a “costly proposition” and vowed that U.S. and Western allies will impose painful economic sanctions if Moscow does not stand down.
“If in fact they continue on the current trajectory they’re on, then we are examining a whole series of steps — economic, diplomatic — that will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on Russia’s economy and status in the world,” Obama said in brief remarks in the Oval Office.
Obama’s remarks were his first public comment since Russian forces in effect seized control of Crimea, a majority Russian-speaking region of Ukraine. Obama’s earlier warnings against military interference were rebuffed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said Moscow must act to protect the rights of ethnic Russians from the new pro-Western government in the capital, Kiev.
Obama administration officials said Monday that they are preparing to turn the economic screws on Moscow as they search for leverage in the standoff.
Seattle Times: How far will Putin go to push his agenda in Ukraine?
Any escalation of Russia’s military intervention, especially if it meets resistance and bloodshed, will almost certainly rattle investors and plunge Russia’s unsteady economy into free fall. With the value of the ruble already falling, there was quick speculation of a rocky start when the stock market opens Monday.
Sergei Utkin, the head of the Department of Strategic Assessment, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that the relentless anti-Americanism on state media was in the past dismissed as crude propaganda that served a transparent political purpose but appeared now to reflect the actual worldview of the Kremlin. “It’s a catastrophe for Ukraine and for Russia,” he said. “The problem is that quite a few people in Russia don’t understand the consequences. They believe the country is strong and can do whatever it wants to do.”
Time: 4 Reasons Putin Is Already Losing in Ukraine
Even a week ago, the idea of a Russian military intervention in Ukraine seemed farfetched if not totally alarmist. The risks involved were just too enormous for President Vladimir Putin and for the country he has ruled for 14 years. But the arrival of Russian troops in Crimea over the weekend has shown that he is not averse to reckless adventures, even ones that offer little gain. In the coming days and weeks, Putin will have to decide how far he is prepared to take this intervention and how much he is prepared to suffer for it. It is already clear, however, that he cannot emerge as the winner of this conflict, at least not when the damage is weighed against the gains. It will at best be a Pyrrhic victory, and at worst an utter catastrophe. Here’s why:
At home, this intervention looks to be the one of the most unpopular decisions Putin has ever made. The Kremlin’s own pollster released a survey on Monday that showed 73% of Russians reject it. In phrasing its question to 1600 respondents across the country, the state-funded sociologists at WCIOM were clearly trying to get as much support for the intervention as possible: “Should Russia react to the overthrow of the legally elected authorities in Ukraine?” they asked. Only 15% said yes – hardly a national consensus.
Reuters: Canada PM says Russia isolation could see it exit G8 entirely
Russia could ultimately be forced out of the Group of Eight major industrialized nations because of President Vladmir Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday.
“We call once again on President Putin to immediately withdraw his military. President Putin’s actions have put his country on a course of diplomatic and economic isolation that could well see Russia exit the G8 entirely,” he said.