Even though the U.S. says joint air drills and naval exercises in the Black Sea were scheduled before the crisis in Crimea, Carney said they send a message to Russia that the U.S. and its allies oppose its actions.
“This is part of our effort to work with our international partners and allies and to speak in a clear voice together that the actions taken by Russia to intervene militarily in contravention of international law and in violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity is something that we all oppose,” Carney told reporters at Tuesday's press briefing.
Carney also said the U.S. is still waiting to see if the Russians are willing to resolve the crisis diplomatically with Secretary of State John Kerry in regular contact with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“They spoke again today and those conversations will continue,” Carney said.
U.S. officials continued to underscore that there is still an escape route for Russia to avoid the full impact of Western sanctions and stressed that Washington understands that Moscow has and maintains interests in Ukraine, specifically their naval base in Crimea, as well as the protection of ethnic Russians.
If Russia continues to ignore diplomatic entreaties, Carney said there will be costs.
“We have a flexible tool in the executive order that the president signed that will allow us to calibrate the cost depending on the decisions that Russia makes, depending on whether or not Russia decides to avail itself of an opportunity here to pursue its concerns in Ukraine in a peaceful, diplomatic way,” he said.