President Barack Obama offered terse words to Russian President Vladimir Putin following his recent takeover of the Crimea region in Ukraine, insisting authorities in Moscow "clearly miscalculated” if they were under the impression that the controversial annexation would divide the United States and its allies in Europe.
“If anyone in Russian leadership thought the world would not care about their actions in Ukraine, or that they could drive a wedge between the European Union and the United States, they clearly miscalculated,” the commander-in-chief said Wednesday at a news conference with EU leaders in Brussels.
The remarks come after G7 leaders agreed on Monday to expel Russia from the G8 group of industrialized nations in a move designed to punish Putin and prevent any further military incursions into Ukraine. The countries have also imposed sanctions on aides and allies of Putin and cancelled a G8 summit in Sochi, Russia, which was planned for the summer.
Obama -- clearly trying to demonstrate a united front in opposition to Moscow -- said the sanctions were "the most significant Russia's faced since the end of the Cold War," and that there would be “growing consequences” if Russia chooses not to ameliorate the situation through diplomacy.
“Russia stands alone,” he said.
The president acknowledged that further sanctions would impact European countries that rely heavily on Russia. Obama said the crisis has highlighted just how important it is for Europe to “further diversify its energy sources.”
Obama is scheduled to deliver further remarks on Russia and Ukraine later this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has shrugged off his country’s permanent expulsion from the G8. He told reporters at a global nuclear security summit in The Hague earlier this week that it was a membership Moscow was “not clinging to” and described it as an informal group. Putin has pointed to a recent, controversial referendum, in which Crimea voted overwhelmingly to join Russia and secede from Ukraine. The White House has contended the vote is contrary to Ukraine's constitution and was administered under threats of intimidation and violence.
Obama said instead of meeting in Sochi, the G7 will meet in Brussels in June without Russia.
The president is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis in Rome on Thursday before heading to Saudi Arabia on Friday to meet with King Abdullah.