- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2014

President Obama said Friday the U.S. and its European allies will move ahead with more economic sanctions against Russia, regardless of whether this week’s cease-fire agreement between Russia and Ukraine brings an immediate end to violence.

Speaking at a press conference that marked the conclusion of this week’s NATO summit in Wales, Mr. Obama expressed optimism that the crisis may be coming to a close and that a peace plan put forth by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will hold.

But given Russia’s past actions — and its inability or unwillingness to rein in pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine — Mr. Obama said the best path forward is to impose a new round of sanctions now, then roll them back if and when Moscow demonstrates it is serious about peace.

“Actions have consequences. Today the U.S. and Europe are finalizing measures to deepen and broaden our sanctions across Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors,” the president said before turning his attention to the recent cease-fire agreement.

“We’re hopeful, but based on past experience also skeptical that, in fact, the separatists will follow through and the Russians will stop violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mr. Obama said. “So it has to be tested.”

The U.S. already has imposed three rounds of sanctions on key Russian officials and sectors of the economy. Mr. Obama said those actions have directly led to the cease-fire deal.

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