WASHINGTON — As Russian President Vladamir Putin sends troops to seize military bases and civil institutions in the Crimea area of Ukraine, U.S. President Barack Obama announced what the administration calls a "creative strategy" to ease tensions in the region.
Obama, speaking from the White House briefing room, said intervention was the key. "I'm not talking about military intervention," he said. "No, I'm talking about getting all of Putin's friends together in a room with an intervention specialist and telling him the truth about how his actions affect others."
The president added that he had spoken to other world leaders and made it clear that it required "everyone to make a serious effort to be there and show their support. This won't be easy, but together I think we can turn the situation around completely."
The Defense Department began to draw up plans early this weekend, which sources involved in the process say include President Obama, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jung-un, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and Intervention Specialist Natasha Cartwright from the Detroit Center for Violent Addition.
"An intervention is a very emotional and potentially volatile situation," said Cartwright during an interview Sunday morning on NBC's "Meet the Press." "It has the potential to cause anger, resentment or a sense of betrayal."
U.S. officials say that is precisely what they plan to avoid.
World leaders will first decide what each of their actions will be if Putin refuses to accept treatment. Then each world leader will write down exactly what he wants to say to Putin.
"I'll be honest," Obama said. "I'm gonna tell Putin how much it hurt me what he did in Syria, and he's gonna have to listen to me this time."
Neil Horton, a political analyst with Rand Corporation, says President Obama's effort likely won't be enough. "Other world leaders will need to step up and really demonstrate resolve in sharing their feelings," he said. That will include Maduro opening up about Putin not attending former President Hugo Chavez's funeral, Kim Jung-un talking about his separation anxiety, and al-Assad communicating his anger over not being invited to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi."
"They have to show Putin how much he hurts others, but also be careful not to alienate him," he added.
"Right now the situation is very fluid," Obama said. "We will continue to communicate with the Russian government and keep this meeting on the down low for now, and when the time is right we will come together and bring an end to this self-destructive lifestyle Putin's been living."