U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out any military action in Ukraine and insisted that diplomacy was still the preferred option for America and its allies to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.
“We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine,” Mr. Obama told local KNSD, an NBC affiliate in San Diego, in an interview on Wednesday.
“What we are going to do is mobilise all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international coalition that sends a clear message, which is that Ukraine should decide their destiny,” he said.
“There is a better path, but I think even the Ukrainians would acknowledge, for us to engage Russia militarily would not be appropriate and would not be good for Ukraine, either,” Mr. Obama said.
In another interview with a local KSDK news channel, Mr. Obama said there was currently no military option on the table in Ukraine. “We do not need to trigger an actual war with Russia. The Ukrainians don’t want that, nobody would want that. But what we can do is stand up for principle, stand by the Ukrainian people,” he said.
“What we’re going to do is this: we’ve sent a clear message to Mr. Putin that we’ll probably be doing more stuff over the next several days, and ultimately, if we see the continuation of the process, then in coordination with our European allies, you can expect even more disruptive economic actions that could end up having a significant impact on the Russian economy,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Obama’s remarks came as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the U.S. is still focused on resolving the issue diplomatically. “We are still focused on what we believe is the proper way to resolve this situation, which is through de-escalation,” Mr. Carney told reporters.
When asked one more time if a military option is not at the forefront of discussions right now, he said it is “certainly not” at the forefront of discussions. “I think that we are focused on, when it comes to costs for Russia to the actions it’s undertaken, looking at and implementing the visa bans and sanctions that are — that have already been put in place, and others that can be put in place under the authorities allowed by the executive orders he signed,” he said.
“We are working with our partners and allies to make sure that that effort is coordinated and that we remain united in the actions that we take,” Mr. Carney said.
“So I don’t think there’s been any doubt that there is a military component to this activity that is deeply troubling and elemental to what Russia has done,” he said.
“After all, as we’ve talked about, there is a means by which the residents of Crimea, the Crimean region of Ukraine, can seek a change in their territorial status, their relationship to the central government in Kiev,” he said.
The Ukrainian government, he said, has indicated that it is willing to discuss constitutional reform and other issues, but it has to be done not at the point of a gun, not under threat of force, but in accordance with Ukrainian law, with international law, and not over the heads of democratically elected representatives of the Ukrainian people.