Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 18, 2014

West looks for fresh ways to curb Russia

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden and European leaders unleashed a torrent of angry words Tuesday against Russia's "dark path" as Western allies scheduled an emergency meeting in the Netherlands next week to figure out how to punish Vladimir Putin for taking Crimea — and stop him from expanding his reach even farther.

Those who bet on "aggression and fear are bound to fail," Biden said during a visit to Warsaw aimed at reassuring Russian neighbors who are nervous that they could be next after Putin signed a treaty adding Crimea to the map of Russia.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, reflecting Western worries that Putin's encroachment could spread farther in Ukraine and beyond, said the Russian moves were "in flagrant breach of international law and send a chilling message across the continent of Europe."

"President Putin should be in no doubt that Russia will face more serious consequences," Cameron declared.

Holding out hope for a diplomatic way out of the crisis, Cameron added, "The choice remains for President Putin: Take the path of de-escalation or face increasing isolation and tighter sanctions."

For all of the tough talk, the Western sanctions imposed on Russia thus far have shown no sign of cowing Putin. More sanctions are in the works, but the West still is searching for more robust answers to the Russian action — short of military intervention.

At the invitation of President Barack Obama, the Western leaders will meet at The Hague next week to discuss what comes next. Leaders from the so-called Group of Seven nations — the U.S., Britain, Germany, Japan, France, Italy and Canada — and the European Union will gather there on the sidelines of a previously scheduled 53-nation nuclear summit whose participants include Russia.

Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., insisted on more aggressive U.S. action, urging the Obama administration to provide military assistance in the form of small arms and ammunition as well as nonlethal aid to the Ukraine and expanded sanctions. In a separate statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the two said, "The West must impose real costs on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. By failing to do so, we only invite further aggression elsewhere."

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