(USA TODAY) President Obama expressed skepticism Thursday over a possible diplomatic deal over Ukraine and indicated that he remains ready to impose new sanctions on Russia if necessary.
"My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days, but I don't think -- given past performance -- that we can count on that," Obama said during a White House news conference.
As for possible consequences, Obama said that "we have to be prepared to potentially respond to what continues to be, you know, efforts of interference by the Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine."
The president also said: "I think I've been very clear that military options are not on the table in Ukraine, because this is not a situation that would be amenable to a clear military solution."
Obama said he spoke Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and planned to speak with British Prime Minister David Cameron about options regarding Russia and Ukraine.
The president's statement came just a few hours after Secretary of State John Kerry announced that diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and the United States had agreed to a series of steps aimed at de-escalating the violence in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Obama, Kerry and their aides have said they will move to put more economic sanctions on Russia if they do not stop fomenting violence in neighboring Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the U.S. allegations of interference and protested what he calls the poor treatment of ethnic Russians by the Ukraine government.
During his news conference, Obama said it is up to Putin to reduce tensions in the region:
"Our strong preference would be for Mr. Putin to follow through on what is a glimmer of hope coming out of these Geneva talks, but we're not going to count on it until we see it," Obama said. "And in the meantime, we're going to prepare what our other options are."