Obama: Russia is on 'wrong side of history'

WASHINGTON -- President Obama said on Monday that Russia is "on the wrong side of history" as he repeated his call for Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his country's ongoing military action in Ukraine.

Obama said his administration continues to weigh economic and diplomatic penalties against Russia after Putin deployed thousands of troops into the semi-autonomous Crimean region of Ukraine.

"What cannot be done is for Russia, with impunity, to put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles around the world," said Obama, before a meeting in the Oval Office on Monday with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama said they his administration has made clear to the Russians that if "they continue on the current trajectory" it will leader to Russia's isolation from the international community. The president noted that his administration has already suspended preparations for the upcoming G-8 Summit that the Russians are scheduled to host in Sochi and that further action was coming.

"Obviously the facts on the ground in Crimea are deeply troubling, and Russia has a large army that borders Ukraine," Obama added. "But what is also true is that over time this will be a costly proposition for Russia, and now is the time for them to consider whether they can serve their interests in a way that resorts to diplomacy as opposed to force."

Obama's comments come as Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Kiev this week with leaders from Ukraine's transitional government.

The president also responded to a wave of criticism from Republican lawmakers, who have suggested that he has been too accommodating of Putin over the years. The Russians' aggressive action in the Ukraine is in part a response to that, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

"We have a weak and indecisive president" and that "invites aggression," Graham told CNN's State of the Union.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said it is now time to suggest the U.S. revisit building a U.S. missile defense shield in Eastern Europe that the Russians oppose, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on Sunday the Russians should be kicked out of the G-8.

"I've heard a lot of talk from Congress about what should be done, what they want to do," Obama said. "One thing they can do right away is to work with the administration to help provide a package of assistance to the Ukrainians, to the people and that government."


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