News Analysis: U.S. Weighs Further Options With Russia In Response To Ukraine Crisis

The United States is mulling its next steps toward Russia as Moscow seems unperturbed by what many have described as tepid U.S.-imposed sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.

The United States sharply criticized Russia for its actions in Crimea earlier this month, and U.S. President Barack Obama will head to the Netherlands next week to press European leaders to get on board with harsher sanctions on Russia while attending the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit.

So far, the U.S. sanctions have consisted mainly of asset freezes and restrictions on travel to the West for a handful of Russians. Obama's critics said the move has given a green light to Russia to do whatever it pleases, as thus far no harsh punishment has come from Washington.

Indeed, the Kremlin took to Twitter earlier this week to mock Obama, with Deputy Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeting out: "Comrade @BarackObama, what should do those who have neither accounts nor property abroad? Or U didn't think about it?"

Others said there is very little the United States can do, believing that harsher sanctions are unlikely to force Russia to reverse course and pull out of Crimea, which last weekend voted overwhelmingly to separate from Ukraine and become part of Russia.

Experts said Washington is highly unlikely to take any sort of military action after more than a decade of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and with a public averse to involvement in crises that do not directly involve the United States.

Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell held the same opinion, but told Xinhua that if Washington did take that route, it would be a coordinated NATO effort.

Still, there are whispers on Capitol Hill about possible arming forces in Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and Poland, but whether that becomes official policy depends on what Putin does next, O'Connell said.

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