More U.S. sanctions against Russia are "teed up" and ready to be put in place if Moscow does not honor a peace deal on Ukraine, President Barack Obama said Thursday.
The U.S. and Russia signed an accord in Geneva last week committing to a plan to solve the crisis by diplomatic means.
But speaking at a press conference in Japan, Obama reiterated U.S. concerns that Moscow was encouraging armed pro-Russian separatists on the ground in eastern Ukraine.
"So far at least we have seen them not abide by the spirit or the letter of the agreement in Geneva," Obama said. "We have prepared for the possibility of applying additional sanctions."
Junko Kimura-Matsumoto / Pool via AP
Obama speaks at the Akasaka State Guest House in Tokyo on Thursday.
The president was speaking in Tokyo on the second day of his five-day tour of Asia.
Although the U.S. announced Wednesday it was sending 600 additional troops to Eastern Europe in response to Russia's actions, Obama outright dismissed the idea of using force to solve the crisis. He said the U.S. would only add to sanctions imposed by the Treasury in March in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.
The difference in tone from Moscow was spelled out in an interview by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday. He compared the situation in Ukraine to its 2008 war with Georgia, another ex-Soviet neighbor, and said Russia would be prepared act in a similar way if its "interests" were attacked.
Obama said Thursday he had not been "overly optimistic" that Russia would follow through on the Geneva deal and urged other countries to put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course.
- Alexander Smith
First published April 24 2014, 2:22 AM