President Obama departed the venue of the annual G20 summit in Australia today, declaring it had been a “strong week for American leadership.”
The gathering wrapped up by promising to fight climate change and work toward boosting economic growth even as leaders made it clear that new sanctions would be imposed on Russia if Moscow doesn’t back down in Eastern Ukraine.
Among other things, the leaders agreed to grow their economies by at least 2.1 percent by 2018, adding $2 trillion to global output, the BBC says.
Obama said world leaders would rather not to have to isolate Moscow for backing separatists in eastern Ukraine. He was at the Brisbane meeting after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing.
“We would prefer a Russia that is fully integrated with the global economy,” he said at a news conference, adding that it was against international norms to “invade other countries or finance proxies and support them in ways that break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he thinks “President Putin can see he is at a crossroads,” and “If he continues to destabilize Ukraine there will be further sanctions, further measures.
“There is a cost to sanctions, but there would be a far greater cost in allowing a frozen conflict on the continent of Europe to be created and maintained,” Cameron said.
NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reports that in meetings with Putin, Obama accused him of reneging on a cease-fire between Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels. He threatened to hit Russia with further sanctions.
But as The Associated Press notes, before Air Force One ever left the ground in Australia, domestic concerns were already on the forefront of Obama’s mind.
The AP says:
“The president showed no sign of backing down on his plans to issue executive orders on immigration that will shield possibly around 5 million immigrants living in the country illegally from deportation. Obama has pledged to act before the end of the year. He said his timing would not be affected by threats from some Republicans who say they’ll try to include measures to block the orders in must-pass spending bills – a step that could lead to a government shutdown.
“‘I take Mitch McConnell at his word that the government is not going to shut down,’ Obama said of the Kentucky Republican and incoming Senate majority leader who has previously rejected talk of a shutdown. Obama repeated his pledge to abandon his executive orders if House Republicans were to quickly hold a vote on comprehensive immigration legislation that passed the Senate earlier this year.”