The U.S. and Europe are laying the groundwork to sanction broad sections of Russia’s economy if Moscow mounts a military incursion in eastern Ukraine, President Barack Obama said on Friday, even as he acknowledged those sanctions may fail to deter Vladimir Putin.
“We’ll continue to keep some arrows in our quiver in the event we see further deterioration,” Mr. Obama said during a news conference in South Korea.
Seeking to convey strong unity among the U.S. and European nations, Mr. Obama said he was “deeply encouraged” by the consistent condemnation of Russia’s actions in Crimea that have emanated from capitals in Europe, North America and across the globe.
Still, Mr. Obama conceded that those statements of condemnation, as well as sanctions levied on Russia so far, have not persuaded Russia’s leaders to change course. But he insisted that Mr. Putin understands the economic hit Russia has already taken as a result of its actions, adding that the Russian President “is not stupid.”
The crisis in Ukraine has continually trailed Mr. Obama as he travels across Asia this week. As Mr. Obama opened a visit to South Korea on Friday, Russia’s Foreign Minister accused the West of plotting to control Ukraine. A day earlier, Russia announced new military exercises near its border with Ukraine in yet another sign that tensions have only increased.