President Obama said Wednesday that the U.S. would not take military action in Ukraine against Russia.
"We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine,” Obama said in an interview Wednesday with KNSD, the NBC affiliate in San Diego.
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week signed a treaty that annexed Crimea as part of Russia, a move that was condemned by the United States and the West.
Obama dismissed the notion that Putin was acting “out of strength,” telling the San Diego station the annexation of Crimea was an action taken “out of weakness.”
“Might doesn’t make right,” Obama said.
He also said Putin’s incursion shouldn’t — and wouldn’t — be read as a sign the United States was incapable of defending its allies.
"His strategic decisions are no way based on whether he thought that we might go to war over this,” Obama said. “I think there’s a clear understanding that when it comes to our core interests or our NATO allies we can protect ourselves.”
Obama is coming under increased pressure to take action against Russia for its actions in Ukraine, and has already signaled he will pursue expanded sanctions against the country.
"We’ve sent a clear message to Mr. Putin that we’ll probably be doing more stuff over the next several says days, and ultimately, if we see a continuation of the process, then in coordination with our European allies, you can expect even more disruptive economic actions that could end up having a significant impact on the Russian economy," Obama said in an interview with KSDK in St. Louis.
But the president made clear he is hesitant to provide military assistance to Ukraine, a step advocated by some members of Congress.
In his interview with St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK, Obama reiterated his call on Congress to pass an economic aid bill supporting Ukraine “at a time when they have an economic crisis to go along with this political crisis.”
The Obama administration issued sanctions against 11 individuals from Russia and Ukraine on Monday in response to Russia’s military intervention, and Obama has indicated that further sanctions could be on the way.
“What we are going to be do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we've got a strong international coalition that sends a strong message,” Obama said Wednesday.
This story was updated at 8:00 p.m.