By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
KERRY: 'ALL OPTIONS ON THE TABLE' TO HOLD RUSSIA ACCOUNTABLE IN UKRAINE. Secretary of State John Kerry said that "all options are on the table" when it comes to steps the U.S. can take to hold Russia accountable for its military movements in Ukraine, including economic sanctions and potentially military action. In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos yesterday on "This Week," Kerry said Russian troops moving into the Ukrainian region of Crimea was "a military act of aggression" and that the U.S. will move swiftly to impose penalties if Russian President Vladimir Putin does not withdraw his troops. While military force is among the options President Barack Obama is considering, Kerry said the U.S. and its allies hope they can avoid such action. "The hope of the U.S. and everybody in the world is not to see this escalate into a military confrontation," he said. More likely in the near term are economic sanctions on businesses and individuals - Kerry told Stephanopoulos that the U.S. is "absolutely" willing to impose such penalties, and that Congress should get to work on those sanctions along with a package of aid for Ukraine. http://abcn.ws/1hC0zbK
NOTED: KERRY TO KIEV. "In Kyiv on March 4, Secretary Kerry will meet with senior representatives of Ukraine's new government, leaders of the Rada, and members of civil society," according to the State Department. "The Secretary will reaffirm the United States' strong support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference or provocation."
OBAMA WARNS PUTIN OF RUSSIA'S 'CLEAR VIOLATION.' President Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for 90 minutes on Saturday, calling on Russia to withdraw its forces, ABC's CHRIS GOOD notes. Obama "expressed his deep concern over Russia's clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law," according to a White House readout, warning that Russia's activity "would negatively impact Russia's standing in the international community" and "will lead to greater political and economic isolation," according to the White House's paraphrasing. The U.S. will also stop participating in preparatory meetings for the G8 summit set to be held in Sochi June 4-5, the White House said. At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power condemned Russia's reported advances into Ukraine, calling them "an act of aggression." http://abcn.ws/1bW27Ol
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
WHY BEN AFFLECK IS LENDING HIS STAR POWER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CONGO. Ben Affleck certainly isn't the first celebrity to advocate for a good cause, but the Hollywood actor and director has managed to maintain an uncommon level of credibility and expertise on the two-decades-long conflict in the Congo that has resulted in the deaths of more than 5 million people. Affleck, who has founded an advocacy and development organization for Eastern Congo and has traveled to the region extensively, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week and sat down with "On the Radar's" MARTHA RADDATZ to make his case for why the United States should invest greater resources to solving the conflict. http://yhoo.it/1n0PRgZ
@GrahamBlog: Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody's eyes roll, including mine.
@OKnox: People who mocked Jared Leto for commenting on Venezuela/Ukraine shld become better acquainted w/how Americans get their news.