President Obama recognized the fact that there are many Russians in Ukraine, but pointed out that there also many Ukrainians in Russia. Those interests could be reconciled, he said, "but what cannot be done is for Russia, with impunity, to put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles are recognized around the world." Obama said "the strong condemnation" of Russia by the international community "indicates the degree to which Russia is on the wrong side of history on this."
Obama said that if Russia continues, the U.S. would lead a global push to "isolate" Russia and weaken its economy beyond steps already taken with respect to suspending plans for the G-8 summit planned for Sochi this summer. Obama tried to give Putin a way out by offering to support a mechanism to guarantee the safety of Russians in Ukraine, but said that if Russia presses forward with military action it would, over time, be "a costly proposition."
Obama, who reiterated America's support for the new Ukrainian government, also sent a message to Congress, calling on them to pass an aid package for Ukraine when they return from vacation. "I've heard a lot of talk from Congress about what should be done, what they want to do," he said.
"One thing they can do right away is to work with the administration to help provide a package of assistance the Ukranian people in that country. When they get back in, assuming the weather clears, I would hope that would be the first order of business, because at this stage there should be unanimity among Democrats and Republicans that when it comes to preserving the principle that no country has a right to send in troops to another country unprovoked, we should be able to come up with a unified position."