President Obama gave the big speech of his four-day overseas trip while in Belgium today, and it focused as expected on condemnation of Russia's moves in Crimea, reports Politico. At one point, Obama rejected the idea that US is hypocritical for criticizing Vladimir Putin given the invasion of Iraq. Not so, said the president, who noted that he had opposed the war as a senator. "But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system,” he said. “We didn’t claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain.”
Obama also dismissed Russia's stated reasons for its intervention in Ukraine as "absurd," reports the New York Times, and he warned that Putin's actions suggested the "darker forces of the past." Still, "this is not another Cold War that we’re entering into," he said. "After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology. Nor does the United States, or NATO, seek any conflict with Russia.” But the West is considering stronger economic sanctions, reports the BBC, and Obama emphasized the idea of putting "substantial pressure on Russia," along "with an open door for diplomacy."