US President Barack Obama says the United States is “short of going to war” with Russia over Ukraine, describing his Russian counterpart as an irrational president.
Answering questions from reporters in the White House’s press room, Obama said on Friday that Washington has done everything it can to support the government in Kiev and “to deter Russia from moving further into Ukraine.”
“But short of going to war, there are going to be some constraints in terms of what we can do if President Putin and Russia are ignoring what should be their long term interests,” the US president added.
Obama made the remarks after a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which the Russian leader warned that the sanctions imposed by the US and its European allies against Moscow are counterproductive and seriously damage bilateral cooperation.
“Right now what we’ve done is impose sufficient costs on Russia that objectively speaking they should, President Putin should want to resolve this diplomatically. Get these sanctions lifted. Get their economy growing again and have good relations with Ukraine,” Obama told the surprise news conference on Friday.
“But sometimes people don’t always act rationally and they don’t always act based on their medium or long term interests. That can’t deter us though. We just have to stay at it,” he added.
Obama’s phone call to Putin on Friday marked the first conversation between the two leaders since July 17, when a Malaysian passenger plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine.
The US claims at least part of the blame for the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane in Ukraine, which left all 298 people onboard dead, lies with Russia. Washington also accuses Moscow of supporting and arming pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, a claim which is rejected by the Kremlin.
In a phone interview with Press TV on Thursday, Eric Draitser, founder of Stopimperialism.com, said the “so-called government in Ukraine is a proxy of the United States” which “was created by the United States with the backing of the United States and it exists only insofar as the United States and its European allies allow it to.”
Draitser also said that Ukraine “has become a microcosm” for Washington’s “aggressive foreign policy that seeks to make war, destabilize countries, and use them as leverage against the ultimate enemies in the eyes of Washington – Russia and China.”