Obama: U.S., Europe 'united' behind Ukraine

Politics,White House,Russia,National Security,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Foreign Policy,Europe,Ukraine,Crimea

President Obama said that Europe and the U.S. were “united in support” of Ukraine as he began a week-long trip to the continent dominated by Russia's takeover of Crimea.

In remarks after a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the president vowed that Russia would face costs for its land grab.

“Europe and America are united in support of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people,” said Obama. He added that Russia would “pay a price” for its actions.

But so far, western sanctions have done little to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to back down after the Kremlin annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

The U.S. and European Union have directed sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials behind the move, and Obama has laid the groundwork for targeting key sectors of Russia’s economy. But forging a consensus on punishing Putin could be difficult, with European allies dependent on Russia for energy exports.

Prime Minister Rutte called Russia’s actions in Crimea a “flagrant breach of international law.”

Obama is in the Netherlands for a two-day nuclear summit and will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping later in the day. But the nuclear talks have been overshadowed by the crisis in Crimea.

The president said that he and Rutte also discussed a number of other issues, with Obama thanking the Netherlands for their help destroying Syria's chemical weapons arsenal. The two leaders also discussed climate change and rising sea levels and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Obama and Rutte spoke in front of “The Night Watch,” an iconic 17th-century Dutch painting by Rembrandt at the museum.

"I'm proud to be here with some of the Dutch masters I studied in school," the president joked.

“This is easily the most impressive backdrop I've had for a press conference," he added.

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