By Jeremy Herb and Kristina Wong - 03/03/14 06:47 PM EST
The Topline: President Obama on Monday warned Russia that it faced economic and diplomatic isolation for its military intervention in Crimea.
The State Department said it was already preparing sanctions against Russia and was “likely” to implement them if Russia did not withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
The talk of sanctions comes as Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryA legacy on the line Power restored at Turkish air base used in anti-ISIS fight Don't expect much of a post-convention bounce for Trump or Clinton MORE is heading to Kiev on Tuesday.
Vice President Biden sought to drive home the administration’s message in a phone call with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
“The Vice President urged Russia to pull back its forces, support the immediate deployment of international monitors to Ukraine, and begin a meaningful political dialogue with the Ukrainian government,” the White House said in a statement. Biden “made clear that if the situation in Ukraine is not resolved, Russia will face increasing political and economic isolation,” added a senior administration official.
Poland also requested an emergency NATO meeting Tuesday under NATO’s “Article 4,” which allows any NATO member to request consultations if it feels its security is threatened.
“The developments in and around Ukraine are seen to constitute a threat to neighboring Allied countries,” NATO said, “and having direct and serious implications for the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area.”
Russia showed no signs of backing down, however, as Russia essentially held control of the Crimea region.
Obama asked Congress on Monday to immediately begin work on an aid package to Ukraine, while lawmakers from both parties endorsed the potential for sanctions against Moscow.
“I would hope that 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 the right to send in troops to another country unprovoked, we should be able to come up with a unified position that stands outside of partisan politics," Obama said before a meeting in the Oval Office with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that planning for sanctions has gone into overdrive.
“At this point we're not just considering sanctions — given the actions Russia has taken it is likely that we will put those in place," Psaki said. "And we are preparing that right now.
Russian ultimatum for surrender?: Ukraine said Monday that Russian forces were demanding the surrender of Ukrainian warships and forces in Crimea, in what would be an escalation of the conflict.
There were reports that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet had set an ultimatum for Ukrainian forces to surrender by 10 p.m. EST, or 3 a.m. local time in Crimea.
But Russian officials denied that any ultimatum had been issued against Ukrainian forces.
The State Department said it did not have independent confirmation that an ultimatum had been issued.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the reports, "if true, in our view constitute a dangerous escalation of the situation for which we would hold Russia directly responsible."
Hawks knock Obama: Republican defense hawks are pointing to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine as reason to resurrect missile defense plans in Poland and the Czech Republic.
They’ve also blamed President Obama’s weakness on foreign policy and willingness to cut the defense budget as an implicit invitation for Putin’s aggression.
“The big one that started this was the absolute retreat on our missile defense system in Poland and [Czech Republic],” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It caused huge problems for our allies and emboldened the Russians. And it really has been a downhill slide.”
At the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, Sen. John McCainJohn McCainGuess which Cuban-American 2016 candidate best set themselves up for 2020? Fox News bests major networks in convention ratings Meghan McCain: ‘I no longer recognize my party’ MORE (R-Ariz.) said that the Russian military intervention was “the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America's strength anymore.”
McCain also questioned budget cuts in the Pentagon’s 2015 budget request.
“What kind of message are we sending when we’re slashing our military?” he said.
Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James InhofeJames InhofeFeds withdraw lesser prairie-chicken protections A GMO labeling law that doesn’t require English? No thanks! Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE (R-Okla.) tied the Russian military action to U.S. military cuts that the president has overseen.
“His disarming of America over the past five years limits our options in Ukraine today,” Inhofe said in a statement.
Pentagon to release 2015 budget: The Pentagon is set to officially release its 2015 budget request on Tuesday, along with details over how it will allocate the $496 billion allotted under sequestration.
There will be few major surprises, because Defense Secretary Chuck HagelChuck HagelThere's still time for another third-party option Hagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill MORE previewed its most controversial proposals last week, but what hasn't yet been seen are the contents of a $26 billion list of things the Pentagon wants to fund that are not in the budget request.
The White House is proposing the Opportunity, Growth and Security Fund as a way to buy back things services have had to cut in previous years, and will be matched with $26 billion in non-defense spending.
Yet the fate of this fund will be lawmakers' hands, who will have to approve how the administration plans to pay for the extra infusion.
The 2015 budget request is expected to be $115 billion more than sequestration caps over the next five years, based on an expectation that sequestration will be reversed.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said such a reversal is not likely to happen.
"When they come and give us a budget based on the fact that sequestration is not going to be in existence — where’s the reality?" he said Thursday.
The Pentagon is also due to release the Quadrennial Defense Review, which outlines future threats and guides defense spending in the future.
The Pentagon is expected to delay the release of its 2015 war funding request until the U.S. and Afghanistan agrees to keep troops there after the U.S. combat mission ends in December.
A bilateral security agreement allowing the presence is not likely to be signed until after August. After that, President Obama will decide how many U.S. troops to keep there, which will affect how much is spent on war funding.
Although combat operations end before 2015, troops are not expected to leave until December, which is during fiscal 2015.
Defense officials say they expect the fund to continue in later years, even if all troops are withdrawn, due to costs to reset equipment used during the war.
The fund has been used in recent years to offset sequestration cuts, but the practice will be harder to justify in the future, according to Todd Harrison, analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
War-funding totaled $85 billion in 2014 — $88.5 billion in 2013.
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