The White House announced late Monday that all US-Russia military cooperation was suspended, along with the upcoming trade and investment talks as penalties for its actions in Ukraine.
Both measures were announced mere hours after America’s U.N. ambassador gave a timid performance at the UN Security Council, but criticized Russia for its “dangerous military intervention” in Ukraine. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia was in violation of international law and said “it must stop.”
“Due to recent events in Ukraine, we have suspended upcoming bilateral trade and investment engagement with the government of Russia that were part of a move toward deeper commercial and trade ties,” a spokesperson for the office of the US Trade Representative confirmed.
The Pentagon said the U.S. was putting on hold “all military-to military engagements” with Russia, including but not limited to military exercises, bilateral meetings, basic port visits and even planning conferences.
Amid speculation among the press, which heard rumors of U.S. ship movements in the region, a statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby read, “there has been no change to our military posture in Europe or the Mediterranean; our Navy units continue to conduct routine, previously planned operations and exercises with allies and partners in the region.”
Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin defended the use of Russia’s military in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, claiming the “legitimately elected authorities” in that region asked Russia to intervene and saying this was “completely legitimate under Russian law.”
However, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power fired back at Churkin, telling a U.N. Security Council meeting “There is nothing that justifies Russian conduct.”
Churkin also claimed Ukraine’s ousted president wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin requesting Putin use the military in Ukraine.
Power added that Churkin’s statements were “without basis in reality” and “self-serving.” She also said there’s no evidence there is any danger to ethnic Russians living in Ukraine.
At the White House Monday night, President Obama, who didn’t even bother to attend an emergency meeting when Putin first ordered the seizure of Crimea, actually met with members of his national security team, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Earlier today, Obama said that Russia is “on the wrong side of history” and threatened that the U.S. will “isolate” Putin and Russia if he didn’t pull back troops from the region. Obama, before a meeting in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the world largely is in agreement that Russia is “in violation of international law.”
He said Moscow’s actions are deeply troubling, and said this would be a “costly proposition” for Russia if it continues with the aggression.
“We are examining a whole series of steps — economic, diplomatic — that will isolate Russia,” Obama said.