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U.S. officials say the Feb. 21 agreement could form the basis for a political resolution to the crisis but would have to be significantly altered.

Both Kerry and Lavrov are to attend meetings in Paris on Wednesday about refugee spillover in Lebanon from the other war on a NATO border - the three-year bloody conflict in Syria. It is likely they will discuss the crisis in Ukraine, too.

Some critics said the Obama administration should have seen Russia’s advances coming and blamed the White House for policies emboldening Putin.

Said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was defeated by Obama in the 2008 presidential election: “The president of the United States thinks that the Cold War is over. That’s fine. It is over. But Putin doesn’t believe it’s over.”

Obama for years tried to cultivate Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the former president, as a friend of the United States. Significant changes were made to Bush administration plans for a European missile defense to try to ease Russian concerns, and a new arms control treaty was signed, as part of Washington’s hopes to “reset” U.S.-Russia relations.

Conservative foreign policy experts in the U.S. said Monday that the reset has long since crashed and burned.

“When you implement a policy of appeasement toward Moscow, that policy is going to spectacularly backfire,” said scholar Nile Gardiner of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “We’ve seen that with regards to Crimea and Ukraine.”

American Enterprise Institute security expert Gary Schmitt outlined a number of steps that he said the West should embrace to pressure Putin. Among them, he said, is the buildup of NATO forces in neighboring nations to make clear to Russia that there is a line it cannot cross in Europe. He also said Navy ships and assets should be moved to the Mediterranean Sea, and possibly the Black Sea, “to remind Russia there is a military cost for its activities.”

He noted that Russia paid little for invading Georgia in 2008.

Georgia’s prime minister met with U.S. officials last week in Washington, and Kerry on Monday pledged a fresh $2.8 million to Moldova to help that nation’s economic prospects. All told, Kerry said the U.S. has provided close to $1.5 billion in economic assistance to help Moldova, which, like Georgia, is a former Soviet republic that has rejected Russia in recent years in favor of Western inclusion.

“So what happens today in Ukraine is just a reminder to us … that we need to do much more in order to address this issue,” Moldova Prime Minister Iurie Leanca said Monday at a State Department meeting with Kerry. “Because if it’s not addressed in time, then it becomes very contagious.”


Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Nedra Pickler, Josh Lederman, Deb Riechmann, Robert Burns and Matthew Lee in Washington and Juergen Baetz in Brussels contributed to this report.

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