Matt's Feed
Mar 1, 2014

Obama, wary of foreign crises, faces East-West standoff in Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As Russia deepened its military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region on Saturday, ignoring Barack Obama’s stern warning, the U.S. president faced a critical test of whether Washington has the leverage or the will to get Moscow to back down.

Obama, who has avoided entanglement in global crises where possible and focused on domestic affairs, now finds himself in the midst of the most dangerous East-West standoff since the end of the Cold War.

Mar 1, 2014

Obama warns Russia of ‘costs’ for intervention in Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama warned Russia on Friday that military intervention in Ukraine would lead to “costs,” as tension with old foe President Vladimir Putin rose in a Cold War-style crisis.

“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,” he told reporters.

Feb 28, 2014

Main Israel lobby seeks to regain footing as Netanyahu visits U.S

WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – For years, Israeli leaders visiting Washington have been boosted by America’s main pro-Israel lobby, its influence on U.S. Middle East policy long accepted as a matter of conventional wisdom.

But when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses an annual convention of Israel’s U.S. supporters next week, he will find the group trying to show it has not lost its touch after the White House blocked its push for Congress to impose new Iran sanctions.

Feb 20, 2014

Obama’s Syria ‘red line’ has echoes in his warning to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s stern warning this week to Ukrainian officials was the closest thing to a “red line” moment he has had since his threat in 2012 to act against the Syrian government if it used chemical weapons.

But Obama’s admonition on Wednesday to not “step over the line” in cracking down on mass protests rocking the Ukraine raised questions on whether he would be any more effective at matching words with deeds than he has been in Syria’s three-year-old civil war.

Feb 12, 2014

In Ukraine standoff, echoes of U.S.-Russia Cold War tensions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Ukraine last July, U.S. diplomats got a private recap of the message he delivered behind closed doors to the country’s leaders. Ukraine, Putin warned, would not be allowed to stray from Moscow’s orbit.

Putin’s blunt talk was an unexpected sign of how hard Moscow would fight Western influence on Ukraine, U.S. officials say, prompting Washington and European capitals to step up their engagement with Ukrainian government and opposition forces.

Feb 12, 2014

Insight: In Ukraine standoff, echoes of U.S.-Russia Cold War tensions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Ukraine last July, U.S. diplomats got a private recap of the message he delivered behind closed doors to the country’s leaders. Ukraine, Putin warned, would not be allowed to stray from Moscow’s orbit.

Putin’s blunt talk was an unexpected sign of how hard Moscow would fight Western influence on Ukraine, U.S. officials say, prompting Washington and European capitals to step up their engagement with Ukrainian government and opposition forces.

Feb 7, 2014

Despite skeptics, Obama envoy sees Guantanamo jail’s days numbered

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is in talks with a wide range of countries to move “as aggressively as we can” in speeding up the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners, the State Department’s envoy said, as President Barack Obama tries to make good on a long-standing promise to close the prison.

Seven months after he was appointed to the job, high-powered Washington attorney Clifford Sloan said in a rare interview that the administration is in its best position in years to negotiate the repatriation of detainees, including to chaotic destinations like Yemen, or arrange their resettlement in countries other than the their homeland.

Jan 31, 2014

U.S. says works with partners to raise pressure on Syria on chemical arms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House said on Friday it was working with partners to ratchet up pressure on Syria to accelerate removal of its chemical weapons after the United States accused it of deliberately stalling an international disarmament deal.

The Obama administration stepped up criticism of President Bashar al-Assad’s government as Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Munich amid a U.S. push for Moscow to do more to win cooperation from its ally Damascus.

Jan 31, 2014

U.S. hopes for ‘framework’ Mideast peace deal within weeks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration hopes to complete a “framework” accord in coming weeks between Israel and the Palestinians and will then seek to negotiate a final peace deal by the end of 2014, the U.S. mediator told American Jewish leaders.

Martin Indyk, the U.S. envoy seeking to defy widespread skepticism over the peace effort, said the framework would address core issues in the conflict, including borders, security, refugees and Jewish settlements, according to a participant in Thursday’s briefing.

Jan 30, 2014

U.S. accuses Syria of stalling on chemical arms handover

WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday
accused Syria of dragging its feet on giving up its chemical
arms, putting at risk a deal to remove such weapons of mass
destruction from the country as it splits apart in a chaotic
civil war.

President Barack Obama this week touted the chemical weapons
agreement as one of the few U.S. diplomatic achievements on
Syria, but the State Department said just 4 percent of Syria’s
deadliest chemical agents has been shipped out of the country
for destruction at sea.

    • About Matt

      "White House correspondent who has covered news on four continents for Reuters, from Latin American coups and drug wars to the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles to the Balkans conflict to the second Palestinian Intifada to the Iraq war. He has covered George W. Bush and is now covering President Barack Obama."
    • Follow Matt