(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Thursday said the U.S. and its allies “have to be prepared – potentially – to respond” to continued efforts by Russia to interfere in southern Ukraine.
He held out the “the possibility, the prospect that diplomacy can de-escalate the situation,” but warned that he was not counting on it.
However, he said that military options are still not on the table “because this is not a situation that would be amenable to a clear military solution.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier the lengthy four-way meeting on Ukraine had produced metrics for measuring how quickly the situation there de-escalates, but added that there is still more work to be done. Speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, Obama called the development “a glimmer of hope.”
“All of this, we believe, represents a good day’s work,” he said after the meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. “But on the other hand, this day’s work has produced principles. And it has produced commitments.”
Turning to domestic issues, Obama also called upon Republicans to end their “endless, fruitless” efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“The repeal debate is and should be over,” the president said as he announced that enrollment in Obamacare, his signature legislative achievement, his now topped 8 million Americans with “millions more to come next year and the year after.”
But some Republicans, he said, “still can’t bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working.”
The president also expressed his frustration with states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid “for no other reason than political spite.”
“That’s wrong,” Obama said. “It should stop.”
In his remarks on Thursday, the president also took the opportunity to express his “deepest condolences” to the Republic of Korea in the wake of the ferry disaster earlier this week. Obama travels to Seoul next week as part of a multi-country trip to Asia.
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