As Russian President Vladimir Putin does not seem willing to take the diplomatic route to resolve an effort to annex part of Ukraine, White House press secretary Jay Carney said continued behavior would have “cost and consequences.”
During the Thursday press briefing, a reporter asked, “In regards to the great old expression, it is useless for the sheep to make resolutions of vegetarianism when the wolves are of a different opinion, at what point in Putin’s quest for a greater Russia … would the United States consider some sort of military show of force to a greater extent? And why have you so scrupulously avoided the mention of military force?”
Carney, who spent much of the briefing talking about economic consequences for Russia, had a less than definitive response.
“We have been pursuing a diplomatic resolution to this crisis as have our partners,” Carney said. “We believe there is an opportunity here to resolve this diplomatically. Russia has intervened militarily. Fortunately it has not resulted in a broader conflict and we are very admiring of the Ukrainian government’s approach to this conflict and the tremendous restraint that’s been shown by officials in Kiev.”
He went on to make reverences to the old Soviet Union.
“I would make a couple of observations about your question, which is, the Russian government has seen in recent months the citizens of one of the largest former Soviet republics, the independent nation of Ukraine, publicly and clearly demand their preference for further integration with Europe be heeded by their elected government,” Carney continued.
“I don’t think that’s a sign of anything except the desire by the Ukrainian people to choose their own future and their own fate,” he added. “I do not believe it suggests, and we as a matter of policy do not believe it suggests that Ukraine would in integrating with the West diminish or sever its ties that are cultural and historical with Russia to the East. When it comes to questions about Russia, visa via the old Soviet Union, it’s important to remember the circumstances are what they are today in 2014 aren’t what they were in 1979 or 1981 or 1968.”
Carney’s tougher talk pertained to an executive order President Barack Obama signed that would allow the United States to push for economic sanctions against Russia if the current course continues. He stressed that the economic consequences are “real and they will get worse” if Russia does not change course.
“Choosing not to avail itself to a path that would provide for diplomatic and an international legal resolution to this conflict would result in further costs for Russia in this conflict, including further utilization of the authorities granted under the executive order of the president,” Carney said. “The costs would not be just be limited to sanctions but other effects that would happen if Russia were to continue down this path, including impacts on the Russian markets and Russian currency.”
When reporters stressed that such consequences have not had an effect so far, Carney asserted, “I don’t think there is any doubt in Moscow about the seriousness with which we take this matter and the seriousness about taking further action if the situation demands it.”