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Monday, March 3, 2014

Obama juggles Ukraine, Netanyahu visit before unveiling budget -- By Susan Crabtree, The Washington Examiner

The crisis over Russia's military intervention in Ukraine looms over a busy week for President Obama, as he also welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday and turns to domestic politics, highlighted by his budget on Tuesday.

While Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday said the administration is still open to working with Russia to help protect its interests in Ukraine, he added that the U.S. and the international community is considering several actions if the warnings fall on deaf ears.

Those options include moving to kick Russia out of the G8 group of world leaders; canceling U.S. participation in the G8 Summit planned for June in Sochi, Russia; freezing overseas Russian assets, withholding visas, and “other actions by the global community against this unilateral step.”

So far, U.S. officials have said only that they are pulling out of preparations for the G8 Summit in Sochi.
Members of the North Atlantic Council met Sunday and condemned Russia's “military escalation in Crimea” and expressed “grave concern” about the Russian Parliament's vote to authorize the military intervention in all of Ukraine, not just the Crimean region. The European Union Foreign Affairs Council is set to meet Monday to weigh options.

Republicans over the weekend used the Ukraine crisis to train their fire on the president's foreign policy record, arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin was emboldened by Obama's failure to follow through on his red-line threat to Syria's Bashar Assad over the use of chemical weapons and his studied resistance to intervening in other hot spots around the globe.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich, on “Fox News Sunday” said “Putin is playing chess while we're playing marbles.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and leading critic of Obama's foreign policy, said the president has lost credibility and any threats he makes to other world leaders ring hollow.

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