Obama looks to isolate Putin

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President Obama will look to deepen Russia and President Vladimir Putin's isolation from the international community when he travels to The Hague on Monday to meet with other leaders of the G-7.

The G-7 leaders are expected to discuss the possibility of permanently expelling Russia from the group of leading world economic powers.

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“What will be clear for the entire world to see is that Russia is increasingly isolated, and that the United States is leading the international community in supporting the government of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine, and in imposing costs on Russia for its aggression,” national security adviser Susan Rice told reporters in advance of the meeting.

The U.S. and European Union have already imposed economic sanctions on Russia, but it’s unclear how much pain they are causing Russia.

The U.S. sanctions have been limited to 20 Russian officials and business leaders seen as advisers or cronies to Kremlin, in addition to a Russian bank used by the Kremlin.

Obama has also signed an executive order to authorize additional sanctions that would target entire sectors of the Russian economy, but it is unclear whether they will be imposed given opposition from some U.S. business groups.

Western Europe has been more reluctant to punish Russia given the closer ties between their economies and Moscow.

Expelling Russia from the G-8 would be a way to punish Russia further economically.

The other members of that group will be meeting with Obama, and White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said that Russia's exclusion from the Hague meeting itself was “part of our isolation of Russia.”

The G-7 will also discuss ways that the West can support the fragile interim Ukrainian government. On Friday, the government in Kiev signed a political association agreement with the European Union, committing the Ukraine to tighter political and economic cooperation with the rest of Europe.

Later in the week, Obama will attend a U.S.-EU summit in Brussels. Obama is also expected to huddle with the secretary-general of NATO while in Belgium.

Following that meeting, the president is expected to deliver what the White House is billing as the “signal speech” of his trip at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.

In his remarks, Obama will discuss his vision of trans-Atlantic relations and European security, the White House said.

While the situation in Ukraine will dominate the president's agenda, it's hardly the only big foreign policy issue on his plate.

Obama will also attend an international nuclear summit in The Hague, hold talks with the leaders of South Korea and Japan on North Korea, and travel to Saudi Arabia for meetings with King Abdullah. 

The meeting with the Korean and Japanese leaders is particularly notable since it will be the two country’s first extended talks in more than a year, and comes amid a simmering crisis over historical disputes related to Japan’s World War II occupation of Korea.

While still in Holland, he will meet with leaders on the ongoing civil war in Syria, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and efforts to halt Iran's development of a nuclear weapon. The trip to Riyadh will be a chance to try to better relations with Saudi Arabia after a rough patch given differences over how to deal with Iran.

Between Brussels and Riyadh, Obama is expected to stop in Rome, a visit where the world’s attention will focus on the president’s first meeting with Pope Francis. Obama has frequently cited the new pope while arguing for policy objectives designed to fight poverty in the United States.

“He's very much admired the leadership Pope Francis has provided in his first year as Pope, his commitment to address issues like income inequality and his leadership of the church more broadly,” Rhodes said. “So it will be an important time for the president to have some personal interaction with the pope and to hear about the very ambitious agenda that he has launched in his first year.”

 

 

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