Digital Briefing: An Update from Ben Rhodes on Ukraine

In this video briefing from the West Wing, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes provides an update on recent U.S. actions with regard to Ukraine and offers an overview of America's policy position.

President Obama also spoke to the press on Ukraine today, saying:

Our diplomatic efforts often take time, they often will see progress and then a step backwards. That’s been true in the Middle East, that’s been true in Europe, that’s been true in Asia. That’s the nature of world affairs – it’s not neat and it’s not smooth. But if you look at, for example, Ukraine, we have made progress in delivering on what we said we would do. We can’t control how Mr. Putin thinks, but what we can do is say to Mr. Putin, ‘If you continue on the path of arming separatists with heavy armaments that, the evidence suggests, may have resulted in 300 innocent people on a jet dying, and that violates international law and undermines the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, then you’re going to face consequences that will hurt your country.’

And there was a lot of skepticism about our ability to coordinate with Europeans for a strong series of sanctions, and each time, we have done what we said we would do, including this week when we put in place sanctions that have an impact on key sectors of the Russian economy—their energy, their defense, their financial systems. It hasn’t resolved the problem yet. I spoke to Mr. Putin this morning and I indicated to him: Just as we will do what we say we do in terms of sanctions, we will also do what we say we do in terms of wanting to resolve this issue diplomatically if he takes a different position. If he respects and honors the right of Ukrainians to determine their own destiny, then it’s possible to make sure that Russian interests are addressed that are legitimate and that Ukrainians are able to make their own decisions, and we can resolve this conflict and end some of the bloodshed.

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