Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of genuine progress.

Said : President Obama in a statement on Ukraine, released by the White House Press Secretary yesterday.
The President Speaks on the Situation in Ukraine

Mr. Obama said since the shoot-down of the Malaysian Airlines flight over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine, Russia and its proxies in Ukraine have failed to cooperate with the investigation and have continued to interfere in the crash investigation and to tamper with the evidence. "They have continued to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft in the region resulting in the death of scores of Ukrainian civilians."

"Meanwhile, Russia continues to support the separatists and encourage them, and train them, and arm them.  Satellite images, along with information we've declassified in recent days, show that forces inside Russia have launched artillery strikes into Ukraine - another major violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. And we have information that Russia continues to build up its own forces near the Ukrainian border and that more Russian military equipment, including artillery, armored vehicles, and air defense equipment, has been transferred across the border to these separatists," he said.

Mr. Obama said : "Yesterday, I had a chance to speak with Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom, President Hollande of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, and Prime Minister Renzi of Italy. We are united in our view that the situation in Ukraine ought to be resolved diplomatically and that a sovereign, independent Ukraine is no threat to Russian interests. But we've also made it clear, as I have many times, that if Russia continues on its current path, the cost on Russia will continue to grow. And today is a reminder that the United States means what it says. And we will rally the international community in standing up for the rights and freedom of people around the world."

Mr. Obama announced imposing of new sanctions in key sectors of the Russian economy:  energy, arms, and finance blocking the exports of specific goods and technologies to the Russian energy sector. These sanctions involve more Russian banks and defense companies.  Mr. Obama also announced formal suspension of credit that encourages exports to Russia and financing for economic development projects in Russia.

Mr. Obama informed about the European Union's decision of imposing its most significant and wide-ranging sanctions on Russia to date. "In the financial sector, the EU is cutting off certain financing to state-owned banks in Russia. In the energy sector, the EU will stop exporting specific goods and technologies to Russia, which will make it more difficult for Russia to develop its oil resources over the long term.  In the defense sector, the EU is prohibiting new arms imports and exports and is halting the export of sensitive technology to Russia’s military users," he said. 

Mr. Obama claimed that Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the already imposed US sanctions  have made a weak Russian economy even weaker. "The major sanctions we’re announcing today will continue to ratchet up the pressure on Russia, including the cronies and companies that are supporting Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine," he said.

"In other words, today, Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of genuine progress. And it doesn’t have to come to this - it didn’t have to come to this. It does not have to be this way. This is a choice that Russia, and President Putin in particular, has made. There continues to be a better choice - the choice of de-escalation, the choice of joining the world in a diplomatic solution to this situation, a choice in which Russia recognizes that it can be a good neighbor and trading partner with Ukraine even as Ukraine is also developing ties with Europe and other parts of the world," he continued.

In reply to a question whether what was happening in Ukraine could be a new Cold War, Mr. Obama said : "No, it’s not a new Cold War. What it is, is a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path." 

In reply to another question about the effect of sanctions on Putin and the supply of US weapons to Ukraine, Mr. Obama said : "Well, keep in mind, the issue at this point is not the Ukrainian capacity to outfight separatists. They are better armed than the separatists.  The issue is how do we prevent bloodshed in eastern Ukraine.  We’re trying to avoid that.  And the main tool that we have to influence Russian behavior at this point is the impact that it’s having on its economy."

"The combination of stronger U.S. and European sanctions is going to have a greater impact on the Russian economy than we’ve seen so far.  Obviously, we can't in the end make President Putin see more clearly. Ultimately that's something that President Putin has to do by - on his own. But what we can do is make sure that we’ve increased the costs for actions that I think are not only destructive to Ukraine but ultimately are going to be destructive to Russia, as well," he said.

Mr. Obama assured that he would continue to engage President Putin as well as President Poroshenko and his European partners in pursuit of a diplomatic solution. At the same time, he made it clear that Russia must understand that "the path for a peaceful resolution to this crisis involves recognizing the sovereignty, the territorial integrity, and the independence of the Ukrainian people."

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