If you agree that bigger nations should not bully smaller ones, you probably oppose recent Russian aggression and support Ukraine’s efforts to achieve democracy.
That’s how President Obama sees it, and he made it clear in his recent State of the Union address.
In this nationally televised speech to the American people, Obama also said that the United States and its NATO allies are united, while Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggressive actions in Ukraine have pushed Russia into isolation.
How America Leads
“Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies … Mr. Putin’s aggression, it was suggested, was a masterful display of strategy and strength. … Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters,” Obama said.
The United States imposed a first round of sanctions against Russian government officials in March 2014, following Russian violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and the occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea.
Since then, 30 countries have joined the U.S.-led coalition coordinating sanctions against Russia: 28 European Union members, Canada and Japan. Obama and other U.S. officials have consistently called on the Russian government to end its occupation of Crimea, cease support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, and implement the obligations it signed up to under the Minsk agreements.
Russia’s economic fallout
In the past year, Russia’s economy has slid into recession as the price of oil — Russia’s main export — fell below $50 a barrel. The Russian ruble has collapsed in value against the dollar, and the country’s inflation has reached double-digit levels.
Progress in Ukraine
The U.S. government has committed nearly $340 million in economic assistance to Ukraine, in addition to a $1 billion loan guarantee. On January 13, the U.S. promised up to $2 billion in loan guarantees if Kyiv continues progress in its political and economic reform.