President Barack Obama faced several questions pertaining to foreign policy at a Wednesday press conference, including one about talks in Egypt aimed at securing a lasting peace deal between Israel and Hamas.
President Barack Obama addresses the first session of the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Obama said he is optimistic about the temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, adding he had “no sympathy” for Hamas.
“It is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinary irresponsibly when it is deliberately sitting rocket launchers in population centers, putting populations at risk because of that particular military strategy,” Obama said.
“Now, having said all that, I have also expressed my distress at what's happened to innocent civilians, including women and children, during the course of this process, and very glad that we have at least temporarily achieved a cease-fire," the president added.
Amid reports that Russian military is moving closer to the Ukraine border, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to retaliate against U.S. sanctions, Obama offered a fairly mixed view.
"We don't know yet whether sanctions are working. Sanctions are working as intended in putting enormous pressure and strain on the Russian economy," Obama said. "That's not my estimation. If you look at the markets and you look at estimates in terms of capital flight, if you look at projections for Russian growth, what you’re seeing is that the economy has ground to a halt. Somewhere between $100 billion and $200 billion of capital flight has taken place."
As to whether the U.S. would provide weapons for Ukraine to defend itself, Obama said, “If you start seeing an invasion by Russia, that's obviously a different set of questions, but we're not there yet.”