The U.S. will not take military action in the Ukraine crisis, President Barack Obama told NBC 7 San Diego Wednesday.
"We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine. What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international correlation that sends a clear message,” President Obama said.
The president's statement on the possibility of military intervention was part of an interview Wednesday with NBC 7’s Mark Mullen, who traveled to Washington, D.C. to talk with the president about a range of topics, from military cuts to raising the minimum wage.
Crisis in Ukraine
President Talks about Military Downsizing
Some foreign policy experts had said that limited military assistance was one of the items left in President Obama’s toolbox, along with tougher sanctions and other forms of economic pressure, when it comes to Russia.
"You have three guideposts by which to conduct foreign policy: Economic, political and military," said Ron Bee with San Diego State University. "If you are weak in one of them, the other ones won't hack it."
As for Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Obama said, "His strategic decisions are in no way based on whether he thought that we might go to war over this."
President: Troops Not Going to Ukraine
"I think there’s a clear understanding that when it comes to our core interests or our NATO allies, we can protect ourselves," he said.
Meanwhile, officials in Ukraine were preparing to withdraw troops and their families from the Russia-occupied region of Crimea Wednesday.
The president said that Ukrainians "should control their own destiny."
If No Troops to Ukraine, Then What?
San Diego's Military
President Obama also talked about proposed military cuts that coincide with the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan.
“We will still have, by far, the largest military in the world, the best equipped military in the world, the most technologically advanced military in the world, and we will continue to be able to meet any challenges out there,” the president said.
However, President Obama said his budget would have allotted an additional $25 billion for the military.
“The truth of the matter is that if Congress prepared to do what I've asked them to do, which is to close some corporate tax loopholes that we don't need and really aren't adding to our economy, then we could make sure that we are using some additional dollars to enhance what is already an outstanding military,” he said.
Local Republican congressmen were not able to provide NBC 7 with a statement about the president's comments, but the GOP has been fighting the proposed military cuts since they were introduced last month.
"This is not the time for us to begin to retreat and certainly not the time to cut our military," Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) told Bloomberg News.
In a lighthearted moment at the end of the conversation, Mullen asked the president about his March Madness bracket.
“It's been a while since I've won at least the White House bracket. I need to be paying a little more attention than I have time to pay right now,” President Obama said.
The president picked Michigan State to go all the way.