Obama: Ukraine Not a Battle Between East and West

Monday, 24 Mar 2014 11:09 AM

By Melanie Batley

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President Barack Obama said he does not believe the escalating crisis in Ukraine is a "zero-sum game" between the United States and Russia, and believes views to the contrary represent an outdated Cold War mentality.

"The United States does not view Europe as a battleground between East and West, nor do we see the situation in Ukraine as a zero-sum game. That's the kind of thinking that should have ended with the Cold War," Obama said in an interview published by the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant on Monday, according to Fox News.

"The Ukrainian people do not have to choose between East and West. On the contrary, it's important that Ukraine have good relations with the United States, Russia, and Europe. As I've said, the future of Ukraine ought to be decided by the people of Ukraine," he said.

The comments come amid news that pro-Russian forces stormed one of Kiev's last military bases in Crimea Monday after Ukraine announced its evacuation from the region.

On Monday, Obama embarked on a six-day trip to Europe for talks with European allies to discuss next steps if the crisis continues to escalate, and alluded to possible further sanctions on top of those imposed last week which froze the U.S. assets of a number of Russian officials, including top advisers to President Vladimir Putin.

"There have to be consequences," Obama said, according to Fox News. "And if Russia continues to escalate the situation, we need to be prepared to impose a greater cost."

NATO's top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, warned Sunday that Russia had built up a "very sizable" force on its border with Ukraine, and Moscow may also be preparing to invade Moldova, another former Soviet republic.

Meanwhile, Tony Blinken, deputy national security adviser, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that Russia's positioning of thousands of troops along the Ukrainian border could be a sign that they are preparing for an invasion.


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