WARSAW, Poland: Denouncing Russia’s actions in Crimea as nothing more than a “land grab,” Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that the US and Europe will impose further sanctions as Moscow moved to annex part of Ukraine.
With few good options, the United States was scrambling for ways to show it won’t stand idly by as Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty for the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea to join Russia. So far, Putin has been undeterred by sanctions and visa bans levied by the US and the European Union, and there’s no US appetite for military intervention.
“Russia has offered a variety of arguments to justify what is nothing more than a land grab, including what he said today,” Biden said in Poland, which shares a border with both Russia and Ukraine. “But the world has seen through Russia’s actions and has rejected the flawed logic behind those actions.” Biden arrived early Tuesday in a region on edge over Russia’s nascent aggression in Crimea. Amid eerie echoes of the Cold War, US allies including Poland have raised concerns that they could be next should the global community be unable to persuade Putin to back down.
Former Soviet states are among the most alarmed by the prospect that Moscow could be resuming its traditional imperial ambitions. But Ukraine is at greater risk militarily because it lacks membership in NATO and the promise of collective defensive measures that NATO membership provides.
The first round of sanctions having failed, Biden promised more would be coming, as he declared that Russia’s actions constituted a blatant violation of international law.
Meanwhile, major Western powers sought fresh ways to show that Russia would incur real costs unless it changes course.
The White House announced that President Barack Obama was inviting the leaders of the G-7 group of nations to a meeting in Europe next week to discuss further action. The group normally meets under the banner of the G-8, including Russia, but has suspended preparations for upcoming G-8 talks.
And in London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the UK was suspending military cooperation with Russia in light of the crisis.
Russia will face serious consequences for Putin’s “completely unacceptable” attempt to annex Ukraine’s Crimea region, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday.
“The steps taken by President Putin today to attempt to annex Crimea to Russia are in flagrant breach of international law and send a chilling message across the continent of Europe,” Cameron said in a statement.
“It’s a simple fact that Russia’s political and economic isolation will only increase if it continues down this dark path,” Biden said, adding that virtually the entire world rejects the referendum in Crimea on Sunday that cleared the way for Russia to absorb it.
For his part, Putin seemed to shrug off the tough talk from the West, describing Russia’s move to add Crimea to its map as correcting past injustices. In an emotional, live speech from the Kremlin, he said that “in people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia.” Russia’s move in clear defiance of its neighbors and the US ups the pressure on Biden to convince its NATO allies that the US won’t roll over. After meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Biden headed to the Poland’s presidential palace to consult with President Bronislaw Komorowski.