President Obama Delivers Remarks on International Crises

Obama touches on matters such as ISIS, Syria and Ukraine.
34:39 | 08/28/14

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Transcript for President Obama Delivers Remarks on International Crises
This isn't the NBC news. Good afternoon I'm Amy robot in new York and we are coming on the -- because President Obama is about to speak in -- briefing room at the White House. He is on his way to a meeting with his national security team working will be joined. By Vice President Biden the president likely to discuss several crucial subjects including the terror group -- the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria. And today's major developments involving Russia accused of invading Ukraine let's go not ABC White House correspondent. Jim Avalon and Jim the United States calling -- says action. In Ukraine an incursion is there a US plan of action in response to Russians intervention. But we hope to hear from fact the president today at least part of that as you say the State Department already saying. Calling this an incursion saying it believes that Russian troops have gone inside Ukraine has begun to fight. Themselves inside -- inside Ukraine itself this will be the first time that the president is gonna speak on that subject is also expected to address the problems with prices. And both Syria. And in Iraq. And speaking to that let's head now to ABC's chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz who is also when Washington and -- As we just surgeons say we expect the president to address the growing threat of -- -- Next steps could they include expanding operations in Iraq and Syria. Well that's certainly what the White House is looking out and it is up to the president to decide whether or not. They expand air strikes in to Syria. After the execution of Jim fully it's something they've looked very carefully and they. Are looking at it through surveillance. Aircraft right now to determine if there are targets and what are the options in play right now -- -- the options would be to go after crisis -- it would probably mean going after crisis convoys crisis artillery just the same way Amy that they have been doing. In Iraq around -- BO. And to rescue those people on -- in jar. But in Syria it would be air strikes that is the option that the president is considering to push back crisis. It -- And here's -- pregnant -- -- anything. But also a few words on a number of topics and take a few questions before long Labor Day weekend. First. Beginning with -- number one thing that most Americans care about the economy. This morning we found out that are coming actually grew at a stronger -- in the second quarter than we originally fought. Companies are investing. Consumers are spending. Over the past four and a half years our businesses have not created nearly ten million new jobs so there are reasons to feel good about the direction we're headed. But as every note there's a lot more that we should be doing to make sure that all Americans benefit from the progress that we've made and I'm gonna. Be pushing congress hard on this one it was -- next week. Second. In Iraq are dedicated pilots and crews continue to carry out the targeted strikes that I authorized. To protect. Americans there and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground. As commander in chief. I will always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland. Because of our strikes the terrorists of my soul are losing arms and equipment. In some areas Iraqi Government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back. And we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary. Personnel serving in this mission. Now I -- poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and people throughout the region. And that's why our military action Iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners. We're taking the fight to us. And that starts -- of Iraq's leaders building on the progress they've made so far and forming an inclusive government the -- unite their country. And strengthen their security forces to confront us. Any successful strategy -- also needs strong regional partners. I'm encouraged so far that. Countries in the region countries -- -- don't always agree on many things increasingly recognize. The primacy of the threat. That I -- poses to all of and I've asked secretary carried -- travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that's needed to meet this threat. As I've said rooting out -- cancer like console will not be quick. Were easy but -- confident that we can and we will working closely with our allies and our partners. For our part of directed secretary hagel and or Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I'll be meeting -- my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop. That strategy and I've been consulting -- members congressmen will continue to do so in the days ahead. Finally I just spoke with chancellor Merkel of Germany on the situation in Ukraine. We agree if there was ever any doubt that Russia is responsible. For the violence in eastern Ukraine. The violence is encouraged by Russia the separatists. Trained by Russia they are armed by Russia they are funded by Russia. Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of -- thing. And the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make of that plane for the world to see. This comes as Ukrainian forces are making progress against separatists. As a result. Of the actions Russia has already taken and the major sanctions we've imposed -- our European and international partners. Russia is already more isolated than any time since the end of the Cold War. Capital is flowing to investors are increasingly staying out its economy is in decline. And this ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more costs and consequences for Russian. Next week I'll be in Europe to coordinate -- our closest allies and partners. In Estonia will reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the defense of our NATO allies. -- NATO summit in the United Kingdom will focus on the additional steps we can take to ensure the alliance remains prepared for any challenge. Meeting of the NATO Ukraine commission will be another opportunity for -- alliance to continue our partnership with Ukraine. And I look forward to -- -- the unwavering commitment of the United States to Ukraine and its people when -- welcome president -- and drove to the White House next month. -- Would -- on the take your questions and I'm gonna start. With somebody who. My guess is now big cheese he's moved on. -- I understand is going to be his last chance to. That's me a question and -- them so graduate -- up. And Jim first -- Let me start with Syria. The decision -- you have to make between. Personal is today. Yes -- win situation. He -- went out. And then -- you prioritize who says. Aside. Lost legitimacy. Defeating nicest couldn't help -- -- Talk. How you prioritize. He's. First of all I want to make sure based clear. On what we're doing now because it is limited. Our focus right now is to protect. American personnel on the ground in Iraq to protect our embassy to protect us consulates. To make sure that critical infrastructure that could. Adversely affect our personnel. Is protected. Where we see. An opportunity that. Allows us and we're very modest risk to help the humanitarian situation there as we did. In -- -- mountain we will take those opportunities. After having consulted with congress but our core priority right now is just to make sure that our folks are safe. And two. Do an effective assessment of Iraqi and Kurdish -- bills. As I said I think in last press conference. In order for us to be successful we got to have an Iraqi Government that is unified and inclusive. So. We are continuing to push them to get that job done. As soon as we have an Iraqi Government in place. The likelihood of the Iraqi Security Forces being more effective in taking -- -- Beisel. Significantly. Increases. And the options that I'm asking for. From the joint chiefs. Focuses primarily. On making sure that Beisel is not overrunning Iraq. What is true though is that the violence that's been taking place in Syria. Has obviously given -- -- safe haven there. In -- governed spaces. And in order for us to degrade -- all over the long. We're gonna have to build it regional strategy now we're not gonna do -- We have to do that way. Other partners in particularly Sunni partners because part of the goal here is to make sure that Sony -- both in Syria and in Iraq. Feel as if they've got an investment in a government that actually functions -- government that. Can protect them. A government that. Make sure that the families are safe from the barbaric acts that we've seen in Iceland right now. Those structures -- -- place and that's why. The issue with respect to Syria. Is not civil and military issue it's also political issue it's also. An issue that involves. All the Sunni states in the region and Sunni leadership recognizing that this cancer that has developed. Is one that they have to be just as invested in defeat in as we. And so. -- cut to the chase in terms of what may -- your specific concerns chuck. My priority at this point. Is to make sure that. The gains the -- made in Iraq are. Pulled back and that Iraq has the opportunity to govern itself. Effectively and secure itself. But. When we -- get a broader strategy. That is consistent with what I said at West Point -- consistently -- -- the national defense college. Clearly. I sold has come to represent. The very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectible. And that's going to be a long term project. It's gonna require us to stabilize Syria in some fashion and -- -- some version means that we've got to get. Moderate Sunnis. Who are able to govern and offer. A real alternative. And company to. Into what I source been doing some of these spaces. Last point would respect son. It's not just my opinion I think it -- the international opinion that. -- lost legitimacy in terms of dropping. Barrel bombs on innocent families and killing. Tens of thousands of people. And right now what we're seeing is various that I -- it is occupied. Are not controlled. By. Outside it anyway. And frankly a side. Doesn't seem to have the capability or reach to get into those. So. We -- I don't think there's a situation where we have to choose. Between -- side. Four the kinds of people who carry on. Incredible violence that we've been -- there we will continue to support a moderate opposition. Inside of Syria in part. Because. We have to give people inside Syria -- other than my -- or outside. I don't see any scenario in which -- somehow was able to bring peace and stability. To a region that is majority Sunni. And has not so far. -- shown any willingness to share power -- them -- any kind of significant way to deal with the longstanding grievances -- to happen. -- No -- consult with congress throughout this process. I am confident that as commander in chief the forties to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops. We will continue to consult with congress and I do think that'll be important for congress to weigh in and or that -- of consultation with congress. Continue to develop so that. The American people -- part of the debate. But I don't wanna put the court. Before the -- we don't have a strategy. Yet I think what I've seen and in some of the news reports. Suggests that folks are getting old. Further ahead. Where -- -- and we currently are. And I think that's not just my assessment assessment of our military as well we need to make sure -- we've got clear plans were developing them. At that point I would consult with congress. And make sure that their voices are heard. But there's no point in me asking for. Action on the part of congress before I know exactly what it is that. Is going to be required for us to get the job. -- -- -- And that's -- using an invasion and when you talk about additional cost of fashion. I am ready at this point two -- -- economic sanctions or are you considering how to find. Guns. I consider the actions that we've seen in the last week. A continuation. Of what's been taking place for months -- As I said in my opening statement. There is no doubt that. This is not a home grown indigenous. Uprising in eastern Ukraine. The separatists. Are. That trained armed financed. By Russian. Throughout this process we've seen. Deep Russian involvement in everything that they've done. I think in part because of the progress that you've seen by the ukrainians. -- mask and -- odds. Russia determined that it had to be a little more overt in what is guarded and but it's not real leadership. What we have seen bill is that. President Putin and Russia have repeatedly passed by. Potential off -- To resolve this diplomatically. And so in our consultations where. The our European allies and partners. My expectation is is that we -- take additional steps. Primarily because we have not seen any meaningful action on the part. Russia to actually try to resolve this and diplomatic fashion. And I think that. The sanctions that we've already applied. Have been a factor. Our intelligence shows that the Russians know they've been -- -- even though it may not appear on Russian television. And I think there are ways for us to. -- -- expand the scope. Some of that work. But ultimately I think what's important to recognize is the degree to which. Russian decision making is isolating Russia. They're doing this to themselves. And what I've been encouraged as graduation. Our European partners recognize even though they are very cost. Implements sanctions. They they understand that a broader principles that state. And to so I look forward to the constitution -- When I see them. -- -- -- -- part of the you'll reconsider four but why did you go to congress before -- Per -- strikes in Iraq it could not believe that that's the case anymore what you said last year and threatened -- losses. -- raised concerns with the expansion powers that the executive free concerned that your recent actions unilaterally. But he had a against the. And here's why. It is not just. Part of my responsibility but it is a sacred duty for me as commander in chief to protect the American people. And that requires me to act fast based on information I receive. If an embassy of -- or console to Mars is being threatened. The decisions I made were based on. Very concrete assessments. About the possibility. That. -- That Kerviel might be overrun. In the Kurdish region and that our consulate. Could be in danger. And I can't afford to wait. In order to make sure that those folks are protected. But throughout this process we've consulted. Closely with the congress and the feedback I've gotten from congress' is that we're doing the right thing. Now. As we go forward as -- described -- And look at a broader regional strategy. -- international coalition and partners. Two. Systematically. To grade. I -- capacity to engage in the terrible violence. And disruptions -- -- engaging and not just in Syria not just in Iraq but potentially. Elsewhere if we don't that this is that the bug. Then. Those consultations with congress for something. That is longer term. I think become more relevant. And -- it is my intention that congress has to have some -- and as representatives of the American people and by the way they -- people may be here. What that strategy -- but as a surrogate chuck I don't want to. Put the cart before the horse and in some of the media reports the suggestion seems to abandon. Your whereabouts -- Gold. Full scale. On an elaborate strategy. For defeating -- And the suggestion I guess has -- that will start. Moving forward. Imminently and somehow congress still out of town is going to be left in the dark that's not what's gonna happen. We are gonna continued focus on protecting the American people. We're gonna continue to where we can to engage in the sort of humanitarian acts that saved. So many. Folks were trapped on -- mountain. We are going to work politically and diplomatically. With folks in the region. And we're gonna cobbled together the kind of coalition we need for a long term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together these military. Political. And economic components. Of that strategy there will be a military. Aspect of that. And it's going to be important for congress to know what that is in part because. It -- cost money. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Report indicated that more. The -- they wouldn't that -- have been going to go down like a good. It's. The in no position better life. Things are forming a new government -- changes -- Well. Once I sold got into Mosul that -- a big problem. Because there's no doubt that they were able to capture some weapons and resources that they've been used to finance. Additional operations. And at that stage. We immediately contacted. The Iraqi Government keep in mind we have been communications with the Iraqi Government for more than a year indicated. That we saw significant problems in the Sunni areas prime minister Maliki. Was not as responsive perhaps as we would've liked to some of the underlying political grievances. That existed at the time. There is no doubt that. In order for. Iraq. Iraq's security forces to be successful they're gonna need help -- -- need help for months that ended help from. Our international partners. They're gonna need additional training -- going to -- additional equipment. And we are going to be prepared to offer that support. There may be a role for an international coalition providing additional air support. For their operations. But the reason it's so important that an Iraqi Government be in place is this is not simply a military problem. The problem we have had consistently. Is a Sunni population. That feels alienated from Baghdad and does not feel invested. In what's happened. And does not feel as if anybody is looking out for them if we can get a government. In place that provide -- some hope. That a national government serves their interest. If they can regain some confidence and trust that it won't follow through on commitments that were made -- way back in 2000. And six and 2007 and 2008 and and an earlier about how. You arrive -- for example. -- -- -- application loss and and give people opportunities. So they're not locked out. Government positions. If those things are followed through on and we are able to combine it with. They sound military strategy -- I think we can be successful if we can't. Then the idea that the United States or any outside power. Would perpetually. Defeat crisis. I think is unrealistic. As I've said before of innocent in the previous press conference. Our military is the best in the world. We we can route prices on the ground. And keep a lid on things temporarily but then as soon as we -- The same problems come back and so we've got -- we've got to make sure that. Iraqis understand in the end they're going to be responsible for their own security and part of that is going to be the capacity for them to make compromise. It also means that states in the region. -- -- Being ambivalent. About these extremist groups and moved through this is the we've -- -- State actors. Who at times have thought that the way to advance their interest as well. Financing and somebody's groups as proxies. Is not such a bad strategy. And part of our message to the entire region is there should be a wake up call to assuming to -- To everybody. That. A group like diocese. Is beyond the pale. That they. Have no. Vision or ideology beyond. Violence. And chaos. And the slaughter of innocent people. And as a consequence. We've got to all join together even if we have differences on a range of political issues to make sure that the rooted out -- glass. The president. Despite all of the -- the -- has taken. Get Russian pullback Ukraine's. Largest seems intent on taking one step back from our convoys transports -- at what point do sanctions -- no longer -- would you. Is it the possibility. That the US military action -- -- fullback -- We are not. Taking military action to solve these clinical. What we're doing is to mobilize the international community to apply pressure on -- But. I think it is very important to recognize that. A military solution to this problem. Is not going to be forthcoming. Now. The fact that. Russia has taken these actions in violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity -- the ukrainians. Has resulted. I believe in a weakening reflection about a strengthening a question that may not be apparent immediately. But I think it will become increasingly apparent. What it's also done is. Isolated Russia from its trading partners. It's commercial partners international business. In ways that I think are going to be very difficult to recover. And we will continue to stand firm where is our allies and partners. What is happening is wrong. That there is a solution that allows. Ukraine and Russia do live peacefully. But. It is not. In the cards for us to see a military confrontation between Russia in the United States. In this region. Keep in mind however that I'm about to go to -- NATO conference. Ukraine has not. A member of NATO. But a number of those states that are close by our. And we take our article five. Commitments. To defend each other very serious. And that includes the smallest NATO member as world's largest. And so part of the reason I think this NATO -- can be so important is to refocus attention. On the critical functions that -- place to make sure that every countries contributed in ordered him. Deliver on the promise. Are article five assurances parties won't be going to Estonia. Is to let the estonians -- That we mean what we say we respect to our our treaty obligations we don't have those treaty obligations what do you think. We do -- stand. Shoulder to shoulder with them and were doing. Not just a lot of work diplomatically but also financial. In order to make sure that they have the best chance -- dealing with what is admittedly -- very difficult situation. -- -- President Obama their -- Larry disservice. I've been very clear about. The fact that our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. And my preference continues to be that congress act. I don't think anybody thinks that congress is gonna act in the short term but hope springs eternal that after the midterm elections they may act. In the meantime. What -- as. Make the system work better. And -- we've had a lot of stakeholder discussions that. Set of proposals is being worked up. And the one thing that I think has happened was the issue -- unaccompanied children -- got so much attention. A couple of months back. And -- part of the reason that was important. Was not because that represented. A huge unprecedented surge. And overall immigration the border but I do think that that changed the perception the American people about. What's happening at the borders and so one of things we've had have had to do. -- to work through systematically make short of that specific. Problem in a fairly. Defined area of the border. There were starting to deal with that -- -- serious way. And the good news is we've started to make some progress -- what we've seen so far is that this throughout the summer. The the number of apprehensions have been decreasing. Maybe that's. Counter intuitive but that's a good thing because that means that -- -- folks are coming across. The number of apprehensions in August. -- down. From July and -- actually lower than they were August of last year. Apprehensions in July were half of what they were in June so we're seeing a significant downward trend. In terms of his unaccompanied children. And what -- I think. Allows us to do. He is to make sure that those kids are being taken care of properly -- due process. At the same time it's allowed us to then engage in a broader conversation about what -- -- to do to get more resources down at the border. It would have been helped along if congress who voted for the supplemental the last -- they did not. That means we've got to make some administrative choices and executive choices about for example getting more immigration judges them. So that has kept us busy. But it has not stopped. The process of looking more broadly about how we. Get a -- immigration system in place while we're waiting for congress to. And it continues mean my belief that if I can't see congressional action that. I need to do at least what I can. In order to make the system work better but. Some of these things do affect time lines and we're just going to be working through. And systematically as possible. In order to get this done but have no doubt. In the absence of congressional action. I'm and do what I can make sure the system works better part. President Obama leaving the podium there after taking -- final question on immigration reform. He was briefing the press -- just before heading into a meeting with his national security team of course. Addressing the escalating situation in Ukraine. Saying that Russia is directly responsible for the escalating situation there they are encouraging training. And arming forces there he says also discussing the growing threat of -- -- and I want to bring an ABC chief. Global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz because we heard Martha President Obama saying our air strikes in Iraq have had some success. But notably saying that in Syria the issue is not just a military one. But a political one and suggesting that the United States the White House specifically doesn't necessarily -- a plan of action. Amy he flat out said we don't have a strategy yet. To fight crisis he is clearly going very slowly here that was the surprising thing about this briefing if anybody had worried about mission creek just listen to this briefing. Because the president crept back what he said today was the focus was protecting Americans and personnel. In a rock and infrastructure there he said they would take a long time to look at Syria even though the president recently authorized those surveillance flights. He clearly does not want people speculating that that means air strikes and surveillance flights don't necessarily mean airstrikes but you can't happen without. So I think the most surprising thing here was how cautious he wants and how clear he wanted to be that Syrian air strikes were not imminent this is a long term project wants to involve the military he wants to involve regional partners before he doesn't expect. Yes -- the president saying that it was not US policy at this point defeat ice this. But to reverse some of the gains that they have made so far in Iraq Martha Raddatz our thanks to you. And we will return now to regular programming if you get the very latest on these stories. By starring them on the ABC news mobile app along with personalize alerts all day long. I'll see you later on world news tonight -- -- robot in New York today. This has been a special. From ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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