WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. administration took a number of steps on Thursday to respond to Russia's military occupation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula while urging Russia to choose the "off ramp" option and defuse the crisis.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that the U.S. "is pursuing and reviewing a wide range of options in response to Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
President Barack Obama acted on some of those options, signing an Executive Order Thursday that allows for the sanctioning of individuals and entities who are "undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine."
The State Department, heeding Obama's directive, implemented visa restrictions on individuals and entities "responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."
Eric Rubin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday that "today the United States has marshalled a full package of measures aimed at demonstrating the force of U.S. resolve in the face of unprovoked military intervention and threats."
Despite these measures, the administration continues to repeat its desire for de-escalation.
Carney said that the objective is a "diplomatic solution that de-escalates the situation and restores Ukraine's sovereignty."
"We call on Russia to take the opportunity before it to resolve this crisis through direct and immediate dialogue with the Government of Ukraine, the immediate pull-back of Russia’s military forces to their bases, the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and support for the urgent deployment of international observers and human rights monitors who can assure that the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians, and who can support the Ukrainian government’s efforts to hold a free and fair election on May 25."