BERLIN — President Obama on Wednesday said the Western world is united against Russia's takeover of Crimea and would impose further sanctions on it if it does not free Crimea from its grip.
"We're coordinating around the potential for additional, deeper sanctions should Russia move forward and engage in further incursions in Ukraine," Obama said in remarks in Brussels. "If Russia stays on its current course the consequences for the Russia economy will continue to grow."
Obama also acknowledged that any further sanctions that may target Russia energy experts would also hurt Europe, which depends on Russia for a large amount of its oil and gas. He said the United States may be able to help by easing export controls on U.S. natural gas.
The 28 members of the European Union are united, he said shortly before he was to end his European trip and head to Saudi Arabia.
Obama came to Brussels to shore up commitments he received from allies in The Hague, Netherlands, to reassure Eastern European members of NATO that the alliance will stand by them and to make a larger point about European security a quarter-century after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
He held a lunch with European Union officials and later was to meet with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, embracing the alliance born as a bulwark against the Soviet Union.
Obama said Russia's military takeover "points to the need for Europe to diversify" its energy sources so its foreign policy cannot be held hostage by threats from Russia to shut off oil and gas deliveries.
He insisted that Russian President Vladimir Putin enter into diplomacy to "free" Crimea and that he not make further military incursions into East Ukraine, and the government there fears he will.
"If Russia continues on its current course, the isolation will deepen," he said.