German Chancellor Angela Merkel has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin in telephone call of breaching international law with “unacceptable Russian intervention” in Ukraine’s Crimea region.
Reuters reports Vladimir Putin has accepted Chancellor Merkel’s proposal to set up a ‘fact-finding mission to start political dialogue over Ukraine, German government spokesman.
This latest development comes as NATO condemned the Russian invasion and is looking at its options. It called on Russia to withdraw forces back to bases and refrain from interfering elsewhere in Ukraine.
This latest development comes as the Washington Post is urging President Obama to spell out the consequences directly for Russia’s aggression.
Mr. Obama should make clear that he will no longer shrink from applying sanctions to Russian leaders and businesses complicit in aggression or human rights violations. An expanded list of Russian officials subject to visa denials and asset freezes that was drawn up by the State Department late last year should be immediately approved by the White House. Russian officials in the chain of command of the Ukraine invasion, as well as Russian companies and banks operating in Crimea, should be the next targets of financial sanctions.
The most powerful non-military tool the United States possesses is exclusion from its banking system. Mr. Obama should make clear that if Russia does not retreat from Ukraine, it will expose itself to this sanction, which could sink its financial system. Russia’s economy, unlike that of the Soviet Union, is heavily dependent on Western trade and investment. It must be made clear to the Kremlin that the Ukraine invasion will put that at risk.
We are beyond mere words and warnings. The time is now for President Obama and his allies to act against Vladimir Putin’s aggression.
Watch NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen press conference on Crimea invasion: