President Obama this week will devote his attention to the escalating crisis in Crimea, hosting Ukraine's interim prime minister at the White House in the U.S. government's highest-profile endorsement of the country's nascent leadership.
Obama's meeting with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk comes after he and other Western leaders failed to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to remove his military forces from Crimea. Obama held multiple, hour-long conversations with Putin in recent days but has made seemingly little progress in deescalating tensions between the Ukrainian interim government and their Russian neighbors.
“The President and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk will discuss how to find a peaceful resolution to Russia's ongoing military intervention in Crimea that would respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “They will also discuss support the international community can provide to help Ukraine confront its economic challenges, and the importance of uniting Ukraine and working to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukrainian people as they prepare for May presidential elections.”
The pro-Russian government in Crimea has called for a referendum on leaving Ukraine, a move condemned by the White House as a violation of international law — a development they also say was instigated by Putin.
Obama last week outlined new economic sanctions against those he said were responsible for the Crimean takeover. But Russian troops remain in control of the Crimean peninsula, and U.S. leaders expressed skepticism over whether Russia would ever cede the territory again.
"I do not believe that Crimea will slip out of Russia's hand,” former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on “Fox News Sunday.”
On the domestic front, the president Tuesday will travel to New York to hold fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The White House ahead of November has ramped up the president’s money-raising efforts, which will even include fundraisers for super PACs. Obama has condemned the influence such big-money groups have on elections, rhetoric that critics are now dismissing as insincere.
Obama on Monday will hold an ambassador credentialing ceremony in the Oval Office and welcome various NCAA men’s and women’s champions to the White House.
The president spent the weekend golfing and vacationing with his family in Key Largo, Fla.