U.S. President Barack Obama says he believes democracy and the rule of law will triumph in Ukraine.
Obama spoke late Wednesday to an enthusiastic audience at Brussels’ Palais des Beaux Arts, after meetings with European Union and NATO officials.
He said Western powers do not have any plans to try to dislodge Russia from Crimea by force. But he said over time, if the West remains united, Russia will recognize that it cannot use brute force to achieve its goals.
Obama also said there was no evidence of violence against ethnic Russians in Ukraine as Moscow has claimed, and he rejected Russian criticisms of NATO actions in Kosovo and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying that NATO only intervened in Kosovo after its people were brutalized, and that the U.S. never sought to annex Iraq as Russia has done in Crimea.
He also said NATO would step up its presence in new east European member states bordering on Russia and Ukraine to provide reassurance that the alliance’s mutual defense guarantee would protect them.