Another crunch week in the East-West standoff over Ukraine kicks off today with Barack Obama in the Netherlands for a meeting of more than 50 world leaders at a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands. There, he and his fellow G7 leaders will hold separate talks on Ukraine.
Obama upped the ante on Vladimir Putin last week with sanctions that hit some of his most powerful allies and strayed firmly into Russia’s banking and corporate world. The EU acted more cautiously but is looking at how financial and trade measures would work, getting ready in case Putin escalates the crisis further.
There is certainly no signs of de-escalation. Over the weekend forced Russian troops forced their way into Ukrainian military bases in Crimea and took them over. NATO’s top military commander said Russia had built up a “very sizeable” force on its border with Ukraine and may be eyeing up a region in the ex-Soviet republic of Moldova too.
Nonetheless, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who will host Obama and the leaders of Germany, Britain, Canada, France, Japan and Italy for today’s talks, said the West might want to move slowly from here.
U.S. officials say any further sanctions will need to be carefully calibrated to avoid bans on entire sectors, like oil or metals, that could hit the world economy. There is also the consideration that if Russia really was cut off, Putin could lash out.