Ukraine crisis: Russia is a regional power – but US is most powerful nation in the world, Obama warns Putin

 

The Hague

The US President, Barack Obama, has issued a warning to Russia’s Vladimir Putin to keep his troops out of Ukraine or face even tougher sanctions, calling Russia a “regional power” which would struggle to compete with America’s global influence.

So far, Washington and the European Union (EU) have responded to President Putin’s annexation of Crimea this month with sanctions on dozens of individuals, most of them directly linked to Mr Putin’s actions in Crimea after his ally Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by protesters in Kiev.

Those diplomatic moves have so far had little effect in Moscow, and Western leaders have faced criticism that  they are not being tough enough in the face of a more muscular Russia.

Mr Obama appeared to meet such criticism by making clear that the US is “the most powerful nation in the world” and one that other countries looked to in order to take the lead on global crises such as the conflict in Syria. Asked at a nuclear-security conference in The Hague whether Russia was now Washington’s top geopolitical foe, he replied: “America’s got a whole lot of challenges.” But Russia, he added, “is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbours, not out of strength but out of weakness. We [the US] have considerable influence on our neighbours. We generally don’t need to invade them in order to have a strong co-operative relationship with them.”

 

Both Washington and the EU have recently intensified their warnings that they will not hesitate to impose tougher and broader economic sanctions if Russia does not de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine or makes any attempt to move its troops beyond Crimea and into eastern or western Ukraine.

The Nato Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said he was “ very much concerned” about a build-up of Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders. Mr Obama said that Russia “has a right legally to have troops on its own soil” but warned against any further action.

“We also are concerned about further encroachment by Russia into Ukraine,” Mr Obama said. “I think that will be a bad choice for President Putin to make.”

If the situation deteriorated, Mr Obama said the US would be ready and willing to impose sanctions on sectors including energy, arms, financial services and trade, even if there would be an impact on the rest of the world. Europe has close economic ties to Russia, and its punitive measures against Russia have been tempered by caution over potential knock-on effects of sanctions.

Mr Obama stressed that any sanctions “will have the greatest impact on Russia”, a sentiment echoed by the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, who was hosting the nuclear-security summit.

“Obviously, you can never guarantee that the people in Europe, in Canada, in the US, would not be hurt,” Mr Rutte said. “But obviously, we will make sure that we will design these sanctions in such a way that they will have maximum impact on the Russian economy and not on the European, the Canadian, the Japanese or the American economy.”

On Monday, the leaders of the US, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada suspended Russia from the G8 group of nations and cancelled a meeting of the group in the Russian city of Sochi in June. They will instead meet as G7 in Brussels.

While the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, was initially dismissive of the move, the Kremlin said it was keen to maintain diplomatic contacts. “The Russian side continues to be ready to have such contacts at all levels, including the top level,” Mr Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Interfax news agency.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital