Washington: US President Barack Obama has warned Russia of “consequences” for its apparent actions aimed at destabilizing Ukraine, but said Moscow was not looking fora military conflict because of a superior American military.
“Each time Russia takes these kinds of steps that are designed to destabilize Ukraine and violate their sovereignty, there are going to be consequences,” Obama said in an interview with CBS News.
Obama alleged that Russia is trying to destabilize Ukraine and is behind recent uprising in this country.
“What they’ve also done is supported, at minimum, non- state militias in southern and eastern Ukraine and we’ve seen some of the activity that’s been taking place there,” he said.
Obama downplayed a report made over the weekend by Pentagon officials that a Russian jet made several close-range passes by a Navy destroyer in the Black Sea.
“They’re (Russians) not interested in military confrontation with us; we don’t need a war,” Obama said.
“What we do need is that countries like Ukraine can have relationships with their neighbors and it is not up to anybody, whether it is Russia or the United States or anybody else, to make decisions for them.”
The US President was not specific on the possibility of additional sanctions against Russia. But the White House said the US is preparing for a more sanctions against Russia.
“We are actively preparing new sanctions. We are also looking at tomorrow’s meeting for an indication that Russia will, or intends to pursue a path of de-escalation rather than escalation,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
“There’s no question that what we’ve seen in terms of the actions by armed separatists in eastern Ukraine has been destabilizing in Ukraine. These groups have clearly coordinated their actions and received support from the outside,” he said.
Carney said the best way to deescalate the situation in Ukraine is for these armed separatists to disband and disarm.
“We note the fact that the Ukrainian government has approached this serious challenge in a measured and responsible way. These provocations are clearly designed to destabilize the country, and the Ukrainian government has responded with admirable restraint,” he said.
“I say that while also acknowledging that it is certainly appropriate for Ukraine to take action to restore law and order, but we believe that they should continue to do so in a measured and responsible way,” he said.
The State Department described the current state of US-Russia relationship as complicated. “It’s complicated,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said.
“I don’t think anyone would be surprised that the events of the last weeks and months have really been hard for the relationship, and that’s why we’ve made very clear that this action cannot stand and that we will continue to take steps against Russia if they continue this activity,” Harf said.