US+Russia Flags

By Katie Zezima
April 17 at 9:05 am

[This post has been updated with additional excerpts from the interview.]

Russia doesn’t want a military confrontation with the United States, President Obama said Wednesday.

In an interview with Major Garrett of CBS News, Obama said Russia must recognize that Ukraine, part of which it annexed last month, is a sovereign nation that should be able to chart its own course.

“They’re not interested in any kind of military confrontation with us, understanding that our conventional forces are significantly superior to the Russians. We don’t need a war,” Obama said, according to a transcript of the interview. A Russian fighter jet made numerous passes close to a U.S. warship in the Black Sea this week, according to the U.S. military.

Obama reiterated that Russia annexed Crimea “in an illegal fashion,” and said that Russia, at a minimum, has supported militias in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Obama said there is “no excuse” for the covert and rhetorical support Russia is showing for the militias, which Obama said are “causing chaos” and taking over government buildings.

Obama stopped short of saying there would be additional sanctions leveled against Russia (even as reports indicate his administration is heading in that direction), but again said, as he has in the past, that each time Russia takes steps to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, “there will be consequences.” The United States and European Union imposed sanctions against Russia last month.

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