Obama rules out military conflict between US, Russia

Washington: President Barack Obama has said that the US policy of imposing tough sanctions on Russia after its actions in Ukraine has badly hit the Russian economy, but he ruled out a war between the two countries amidst growing tension between them.

"I don't think that it would be wise for the US or the world to see an actual military conflict between the United States and Russia," Obama said.

"I think that's entirely fair. And I think that is a testament to the bad decisions that Putin is making on behalf of his country," Obama said when asked if it is fair to say that his Russia policy has been pretty effective in imposing real costs on the Russian economy, but it has not deterred President Vladimir Putin from creating instability in Ukraine.

Obama said when he came into office, he talked about reset of US-Russia relationship.

"I established I think an effective working relationship with (the then Russian President, Dmitry) Medvedev. And as a consequence, Russia's economy was growing. They had the opportunity to begin diversifying their economy. Their relations across Europe and around the world were sound. They joined the WTO, with assistance from us," he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview.

"Since Putin made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine, not because of some grand strategy, but essentially because he was caught off balance by the protests in the Maidan, and Yanukovych then fleeing after we'd brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine," he noted.

"Since that time this improvisation that he has gotten him deeper and deeper into a situation that is a violation of international law, that violates the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, has isolated Russia diplomatically, has made Europe wary of doing business with Russia," Obama alleged.

"Has allowed the imposition of sanctions that are crippling Russia's economy at a time when their oil revenues are dropping. There's no formula in which this ends up being good for Russia. The annexation of Crimea is a cost, not a benefit to Russia," he said.

"Now, but what is absolutely true is that if you have a leader who continually drives past the off ramps that we've provided, given the size of the Russian military, given the fact that Ukraine is not a NATO country, and so as a consequence there are clear limits in terms of what we would do militarily, Putin has not been stopped so far," he added.

Obama alleged that so far he has not seen a recognition on the part of the Kremlin that it is in Russia's interest to resolve this issue over the long-term.

"So we are going to keep on these dual tracks, putting more pressure on Russia, bolstering Ukraine, delivering a message to Putin that these off ramps and diplomatic resolutions remain available," he added. 

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