In one of interviews published on March 10 that formed the basis of an article in The Atlantic magazine, Obama said that Ukraine was clearly a core interest for Russia but suggested that it may not be one for the United States, RFERL reports.
Ukraine is “an example of where we have to be very clear about what our core interests are and what we are willing to go to war for,” Obama said.
He rejected the notion that “the decision making of Russia” could somehow be influenced by “talking tough or engaging in some military action” in such situations. Such an idea “is contrary to all the evidence we have seen over the last 50 years,” Obama said.
Obama resisted pressure last year to send lethal military aid to help Kyiv fight against Russia-backed separatists who control part of eastern Ukraine. Their war against government forces has killed more than 9,100 people since it broke out in April 2014 — shortly after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine.
Obama said that there are “ways to deter, but it requires you to be very clear ahead of time about what is worth going to war for and what is not.”
“If there is somebody in [Washington] that would claim that we would consider going to war with Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, they should speak up and be very clear about it.”