National security adviser Susan Rice said Friday that Russia's annexation of Crimea had prompted a “fundamental reassessment” of U.S.-Russia relations.
She said the U.S. and Europe since the end of the Cold War had worked to integrate Russia into the global economy and international community.
She called Russia’s incursion into Ukraine “a very egregious departure” from international norms that had prompted a reassessment on both sides of the Atlantic of how to handle the Kremlin.
The U.S. and Europe have imposed economic sanctions on top advisers to Russian President Vladimir Putin and on a key bank used by the Kremlin. The Obama administration has ruled out military action, despite a buildup of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border.
The administration has hoped that Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine would end with the Crimea peninsula, which was annexed into Russia this week.
Rice also refused to say whether the administration believed Russian officials, who have claimed that a buildup of 20,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian border is merely a military exercise.
“It's not clear what that signals,” Rice said. “The Russians have stated that they are intending military exercises. Obviously, given their past practice and the gap between what they have said and what they have done, we are watching it with skepticism.”
Despite the lingering distrust, Rice said she believed the United States and Russia could continue to work together on nuclear security issues. Next week, Obama and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will both attend a nuclear summit at The Hague.
“We have every interest in continuing to cooperate with Russia and other countries, even where we have differences with them on other issues, on the issue of nuclear security,” Rice said.