President Barack Obama announces new U.S. sanctions on the Russian economy following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's crimea region, at the White House in Washington, D.C. on March 20, 2014. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
Although President Obama met with European leaders in Belgium on Wednesday to discuss the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, their meeting was dominated by Russia's intervention in Ukraine's Crimean region.
Speaking at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Obama stressed the united front between the United States and Europe in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.
"The United States and Europe stand united on this issue," Obama said. "We’re united in our support for Ukraine and for the need to provide economic assistance to help stabilize its economy. We’re united in our commitment to Europe’s security. We’re united in our determination to isolate Russia and impose costs for Russia’s actions."
The president applauded the European Union for its response to Russia, which has included "implementing visa bans and freezing assets and designating individuals for sanctions, as well as canceling a number of engagements with Russia." He added that when combined with the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and others in the international community, "they're the most significant sanctions Russia’s faced since the end of the Cold War."
Obama underscored the reality that Russia is already isolated because of its unilateral actions:
"Russia stands alone. Russia stood alone when trying to defend its actions at the U.N. Security Council. The 28 members of the European Union are united. The 28 members of NATO are united. Every member of the G-7 has imposed sanctions on Russia, as we announced on Monday. And the G-7 will meet here in Brussels in June without Russia."
Moreover, Obama said Russia risks further isolation if it fails to de-escalate the Crimean crisis in a diplomatic way. If Russia does not comply, the president warned of additional sanctions and "growing consequences" for Russia's economy.