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POLITICS: PennAve

White House: Obama can monitor Ukraine from 'warmer' Florida

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Florida,Russia,National Security,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Foreign Policy,Ukraine

The White House on Friday said that the crisis Ukraine would not keep President Obama from his scheduled weekend vacation in Key Largo, Fla.

Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said that Obama had been able to monitor developments in Ukraine despite a busy domestic schedule this week and that he would continue to do so out of Washington.

“Over the course of a very busy week, the president has maintained his schedule and his ability to monitor ongoing events in Ukraine,” Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Florida.

"What the president will be doing this weekend in Florida is essentially what the president would be doing back at the White House. It's just that the weather will be a little warmer," he added.

Obama has made a number of calls to world leaders -- including Russian President Vladimir Putin -- to discuss the crisis and Earnest said it was likely Obama would make another call to a foreign leader today.

Earnest added that Obama could return to Washington sooner if needed.

“There’s always a chance the schedule could change, but I don’t anticipate any changes at this point,” he said.

He noted that deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken would also be joining Obama in Florida.

“We have complete confidence the president can handle all the responsibilities he has,” said Earnest.

First lady Michelle Obama and his family will be with him in Key Largo, but some questioned if Obama would need to cancel his plans after Russia's military incursion in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

Putin has rejected calls to pull back his military forces. Obama told Putin his actions had violated international law and that there will be "costs" for Russia's actions.

Obama has authorized sanctions against individuals who are determined to be “undermining democracy” in Ukraine and Congress is moving legislation that would provide Ukraine with financial help to ease Russian pressure.

Earnest added that the president was looking forward to spending time with his family outside of Washington.

"The president is looking forward to spending some time with his wife and daughters, who are traveling down to Florida as well," Earnest said. "There are some recreational amenities on the property, including workout facilities, tennis courts, a couple of golf courses.

"If there is an opportunity for the president to enjoy some of those amenities, then he'll do that," he continued."What he will do, and what he is looking forward to doing, is getting a little downtime in the warm weather with his wife and daughters."

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