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Obama Seeks G7 Support to Isolate Russia
Mar 27, 2014

On 24 March Barack Obama arrivedd in the Netherlands, where he tried to gauge how far European allies are willing to go to stop Russia from moving deeper into Ukraine after annexing Crimea. The US president is visiting Europe for talks with fellow leaders of the G-7.

It comes as Russian troops backed by helicopters stormed a Ukrainian naval base on the Crimea peninsula early, one of the few military facilities that still flying a Ukrainian flag in Crimea after Russia's annexation.

The invading troops were using stun grenades and also firing automatic weapons. The interior of the compound was full of Russian troops. Russian forces were taking away all Ukrainian officers from the base to another location in the city for questioning. 

Russian troops used armoured vehicles, automatic gunfire and stun grenades to take the Ukrainian Belbek airbase. The Russian flag is now flying at 189 Ukrainian military bases in the Crimea.

Barack Obama’s trip include visits to Belgium, Italy and Saudi Arabia. He threatened US sanctions against key sectors of the Russian economy. European allies have far closer economic ties to Russia than the United States and their still-fragile economies could face a backlash if they get tough with Russia. Russia provides almost a third of the EU's gas needs and some 40% of the gas is shipped through Ukraine. It is difficult to convince them to go anywhere near where the United States would like to go.

Russia's abrupt annexation of the Crimea region of southern Ukraine has presented Obama with an urgent foreign policy challenge, one that may weigh heavily on a second term that he would have preferred to devote to domestic affairs. While refusing to concede the loss of Crimea, US’ goal in Europe is to lead an effort to isolate Russia and dissuade it from moving into southern or eastern Ukraine.

The US president is prepared to launch widespread penalties against key sectors of Russia's economy, such as its energy industry, should Putin move into southern or eastern Ukraine. The US president is facing pressure from Republican lawmakers to do more to bolster NATO allies near Russia, such as the Baltic nations, and quickly move to stronger sanctions.

Beside nuclear security summit at The Hague Obama had separate talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, their first face-to-face meeting since a G-20 summit in Russia. He also participated in a three-way summit with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and South Korea president Park Geun-Hye to try to defuse tensions between the Asian powerhouses ahead of an his visit to Asia in April.

The US president also discussed with European leaders on 26 March in Brussels a proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement and joint efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran to contain its nuclear programme.


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