Continuing to escalate tensions with Russia, President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron today laid out an ultimatum, giving Russia’s President Putin a series of demands he has to meet by the end of a month or face major sanctions.
The new “thresholds” are familiar demands, including blocking all arms from crossing the border into Ukraine, ending all public support for the ethnic Russian protesters in the eastern portion of Ukraine, and “recognizing Petro Poroshenko’s election as the new leader in Ukraine.”
The last demand is particularly bizarre, because Russia already recognized the election virtually as soon as the results came in, and has been pushing for talks with Poroshenko on ending the violence in the east.
The State Department has made clear that the current sanctions will remain in case no matter what Russia does, and that there isn’t even a consideration of a deal to end the growing sanctions war. Rather, the ultimatum offers a choice between the status quo of sanctions or further escalation at a faster pace
On a rhetorical front, the State Department also made clear that under no circumstances would the US ever consider the situation in Ukraine a “civil war,” arguing that they believe the whole eastern situation is Russia’s fault and that therefore it can’t be an internal conflict.