“Now is the time for Rusisa and Putin to pivot away from the strategy he been taking and get serious” about resolving the conflict in Ukraine, Obama said in a statement Monday morning in the White House Rose Garden.
He also issued a vaguely worded threat.
“My preference has and continues to be finding a diplomatic solution with regard to Ukraine,” he said. “If Russia continues to back these separatists … then Russia will only further isolate itself with the international community” and increase its costs within the international community.
Obama’s statement came after a weekend in which his administration grappled with the fallout over the downed Malaysian jetliner with reports that Russian-backed separatists were tampering with evidence and removing bodies along the 10-mile crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Obama said such tampering has “no place in the community of nations” and said given Russia’s direct influence over the separatists, Putin has the “responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation.”
I don’t mean to be a spoilsport, but couldn’t the President have announced a concrete step or two, rather than yet another lecture about international norms and community and other stuff Putin clearly doesn’t care about?
Obama could have announced something that hurts Moscow — rapid deployment of scrapped anti-missile systems to Poland and the Czech Republic, a broad expansion of drilling and exporting of American oil, or the exclusion of Russia from further talks with Iran and fully imposing sanctions on Tehran.
If our relations really have dropped to Cold War levels, then it’s time to get serious about treating Moscow as a real adversary.