President Obama Speaks on Ukraine, Says Virtually Nothing

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 28 2014 5:59 PM

President Obama Speaks on Ukraine, Says Virtually Nothing

475642877-president-barack-obama-speaks-in-the-brady-briefing
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on February 28, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama spoke about the crisis in Ukraine. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Friday afternoon, President Obama delievered a brief message on the continuing crisis in Crimea, which may be experiencing a Russian takeover. From the AP:

"Any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply [de]stabilizing," Obama said in a hastily arranged statement delivered from the White House. Such action by Russia would not serve the interests of the Ukrainian people, Russia or Europe, Obama said, and would represent a "profound interference" in matters he said must be decided by the Ukrainian people.
"Just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, that would invite the condemnation of nations around the world," Obama said. "The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine."
Advertisement

Despite Obama's hard line, America's options in Crimea are limited. As my colleague Josh Keating noted, the United States is very unlikely to intervene, even though Russia's actions probably violate a U.S.-Russian agreement to respect Ukraine's sovereignty within its current borders. With no actual weapons at his disposal, then, Obama has continued to deploy verbal warnings—a fairly minor tool in the face of an international crisis. 

For more information on the crisis, see Josh Keating's Ukraine/Crimea Explainer.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.