President Barack Obama is not optimistic about Russia living up to its end of a deal struck Thursday in Geneva, saying past actions by Russia do not give him confidence about the future.
“I think there is the possibility, the prospect that diplomacy could de-escalate the situation in Ukraine,” he said at a press conference from the White House briefing room on Thursday, before adding, “I don’t think, given past performance, that we can count on that.”
Obama described the deal as a “glimmer of hope.” He also dismissed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims Moscow is not involved with the pro-Russian militants who have been fomenting violence in eastern Ukraine and said it is clear “Russia’s hand is in the disruption and chaos.”
Obama said the U.S. has to be prepared to “respond” to Russia, but that military options are “not on the table.” However, he said America would continue to target Russia economically through sanctions and other penalties.
“We have no desire to see further deterioration in the Russian economy. But we will continue to uphold the right of sovereignty,” Obama said.
Diplomats from the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union announced the preliminary deal Thursday.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the terms of the deal during a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland. All parties agreed that all sides refrain from violence. All illegal groups must be disarmed. All illegally seized buildings in eastern Ukraine must be returned to their legitimate owners. All illegally occupied streets and squares must be vacated.
The deal also calls for amnesty to all protesters who have left their public places and surrendered their weapons, providing they are not accused of crimes.
“None of us leave here with a sense that the job is done because these words are on the paper,” Kerry said. “If we’re not able to see immediate progress, we’ll have no other choice than impose further costs on Russia.”
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