Obama skipped Saturday's meeting of national security team on Ukraine crisis
“What, me worry?” seems to be the operating philosophy of President Obama as a serious crisis brews in Eastern Europe. Daniel Halper reports an almost unbelievable level of Obama nonchalance toward his national security responsibilities in the Weekly Standard:
A White House official emailed some reporters to say that President Obama's team met today to discuss the ongoing situation on Ukraine. It appears President Obama did not attend.
"The President's national security team met today to receive an update on the situation in Ukraine and discuss potential policy options. We will provide further updates later this afternoon," reads the full statement.
According to Time magazine's Zeke Miller, Obama skipped the meeting. "Obama did not attend the meeting, but WH official says he has been briefed by Susan Rice and his national security team," says Miller.
Obama did not attend the meeting, but WH official says he has been briefed by Susan Rice and his national security team.— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 1, 2014
Perhaps the president was busy watching college hoops Saturday. March Madness is on the way, and those presidential brackets are a priority, after all.
Update: Was the president speaking with Putin during the meeting? If so, why did he not prepare for that conversation by meeting with his team beforehand? The White House account of that conversation is not encouraging:
President Obama spoke for 90 minutes this afternoon with President Putin of Russia about the situation in Ukraine. President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and which is inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act. The United States condemns Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory.
The United States calls on Russia to de-escalate tensions by withdrawing its forces back to bases in Crimea and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine. We have consistently said that we recognize Russia’s deep historic and cultural ties to Ukraine and the need to protect the rights of ethnic Russian and minority populations within Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has made clear its commitment to protect the rights of all Ukrainians and to abide by Ukraine’s international commitments, and we will continue to urge them to do so.
President Obama told President Putin that, if Russia has concerns about the treatment of ethnic Russian and minority populations in Ukraine, the appropriate way to address them is peacefully through direct engagement with the government of Ukraine and through the dispatch of international observers under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As a member of both organizations, Russia would be able to participate. President Obama urged an immediate effort to initiate a dialogue between Russia and the Ukrainian government, with international facilitation, as appropriate. The United States is prepared to participate.
President Obama made clear that Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would negatively impact Russia’s standing in the international community. In the coming hours and days, the United States will urgently consult with allies and partners in the UN Security Council, the North Atlantic Council, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and with the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum. The United States will suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8. Going forward, Russia’s continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation.
The people of Ukraine have the right to determine their own future. President Obama has directed his Administration to continue working urgently with international partners to provide support for the Ukrainian government, including urgent technical and financial assistance. Going forward, we will continue consulting closely with allies and partners, the Ukrainian government and the International Monetary Fund, to provide the new government with significant assistance to secure financial stability, to support needed reforms, to allow Ukraine to conduct successful elections, and to support Ukraine as it pursues a democratic future.
Scott Johnson is apt:
If it were a parody of liberal handwringing, this would be comedy gold. One highlight would be the obligatory advice to Putin of his country’s interest: “President Obama made clear that Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would negatively impact Russia’s standing in the international community.” Oh, no, no, not that!
One searches for indications of action to be taken by the United States.
Update (hat tip: Andrew Thomas)
Hat tip: Lauri Regan