The Note's Must-Reads for Monday, March 03, 2014

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at

Compiled by ABC News' Jayce Henderson , Will Cantine, Jordan Mazza and Janine Elliot

UKRAINE ABC News' Chris Good: " After Ukraine Incursion, U.S. Moves to Kick Russia Out of G8" After Russia's military incursion into Ukraine, the G8 might become the G7 again. Russia is set to host the next summit of the Group of Eight - the (mostly) western economic powers of the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan and Russia - in Sochi in June, and the U.S. has broken off its participation in planning meetings in protest of Russian forces' presence in Crimea, where they have reportedly surrounded military bases. LINK

USA Today's Aamer Madhani: " Obama: Russian intervention completely illegitimate" With the Russians showing no signs of withdrawing the thousands of troops they have deployed into the Crimean region of the Ukraine, the Obama administration warned on Sunday that Russia's military action could lead to Moscow's international isolation and result in a "long-term hit" to the Russian economy. In his phone call on Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders in the region over the weekend, Obama repeatedly complained of the Russian actions in Ukraine, even as White House officials spoke to Moscow about an off-ramp to end the crisis, according to three senior administration officials. LINK

USA Today's Jim Michaels and Jacob Resneck: " Kerry heads to Kiev as Ukraine crisis deepens" Russian troops consolidated their hold on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula as the United States and others denounced the military movement, deepening the East-West standoff over the future of Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European foreign ministers announced plans Sunday for talks in Kiev aimed at easing rising tensions as Ukraine put its military on high alert and appealed for international help against a feared invasion by Russia. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Jay Solomon, Carol E. Lee and Stephen Fidler: " U.S., Europe Threaten to Punish Putin" The U.S. and its European allies vowed Sunday to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin and punish his nation's economy, demanding he withdraw what they called an occupation force from Ukraine's Crimean region. Washington began canceling joint economic and trade initiatives with Moscow, including preparations for the summit of the Group of Eight leading nations scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia, in June. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Paul Sonne and Alan Cullison: " How Moscow Orchestrated Events in Crimea" A week ago, Dmitry Polonsky was a fringe political activist in the Ukrainian province of Crimea, signing up middle-aged men rankled by the new authorities in Kiev to a small pro-Russia militia.Today, as thousands of Russian troops swarm through Crimea, Mr. Polonsky's star is rising. He introduces himself as an adviser to Crimea's new prime minister. His Russian Unity party, though holding only three of 100 seats in the regional assembly, is the de facto authority in the Black Sea peninsula that has cut itself off from mainland Ukraine. On Sunday, the party's leader said he would be raising an army to defend Crimea against invasion from Kiev. LINK

The Hill's Russell Berman: " US moves to isolate Russia from 'community of civilized nations'" The Obama administration on Sunday worked to isolate Russia on the world stage even as its president, Vladimir Putin, showed no signs of rolling back his military intervention in Ukraine. President Obama spoke by phone with leaders from Great Britain, Germany and Poland, and he dispatched Secretary of State to Kiev on Tuesday for a show of solidarity with the new Ukrainian government. LINK

The New York Daily News' Dan Friedman and Bill Hutchinson: " Ukraine accuses Russia of 'pure aggression'; Kerry criticizes Putin over Crimea" The Ukranian prime minister described his country as being "on the brink of disaster" Sunday as Russian troops put a lockdown on the Crimean peninsula. Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin refused to buckle to international pressure to back off in the volatile Ukrainian region even as U.S. Secretary of State Kerry issued a stern ultimatum. Moscow appeared to thumb its nose at Kerry's threats of economic and diplomatic sanctions as Russian troops cut off the Crimean peninsula from the rest of Ukraine. LINK

The New York Times' Peter Baker: " Pressure Rising As Obama Works To Rein In Russia" As Russia dispatched more forces and tightened its grip on the Crimean Peninsula on Sunday, President Obama embarked on a strategy intended to isolate Moscow and prevent it from seizing more Ukrainian territory even as he was pressured at home to respond more forcefully. Working the telephone from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama rallied allies, agreed to send Secretary of State John Kerry to Kiev and approved a series of diplomatic and economic moves intended to "make it hurt," as one administration official put it. But the president found himself besieged by advice to take more assertive action. LINK

Politico's Reid J Epstein: " Ukraine Conflict: Obama's options On Russia" President Barack Obama once again finds himself in a standoff with Russian President Vladimir Putin - with no good options for getting out of it. He's not likely to send in the U.S. military, economic sanctions will take time to hurt Putin and so far the international condemnation has amounted to sternly-worded statements, not substantial action. U.S. officials taunted Putin on Sunday while Secretary of State John Kerry, who is headed to Ukraine for meetings on Tuesday, lectured him during a tour of the Sunday morning news shows. LINK

MILITARY DEFENSE SPENDING Wall Street Journal's Dion Nissenbaum and Julian E. Barnes: " Standoff With Russia Fuels U.S. Defense Spending Debate" The deepening East-West standoff over Ukraine is triggering a shift in political pressures in Washington and adding fuel to a debate over U.S. military spending cuts. President Barack Obama is facing calls to rethink diplomatic strategies and exert a more forceful American response. At the same time, even self-professed Republican hawks aren't urging military action, recognition of limits on U.S. options. LINK

NORTH KOREA Wall Street Journal's Kwanwoo Jun: " North Korea Launches Two Missiles" North Korea on Monday launched two short-range missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, South Korean defense authorities said. A defense ministry official in Seoul confirmed the firings occurred at 6:19 a.m. (2119 GMT) at its missile launch site in the southeastern region of Kittaeryong. These are the second firing of missiles in a few days. "The two missiles flew about 500 kilometers (310 miles) northeast and landed in waters off (the North Korean eastern coastal city of) Wonsan," the official said, giving no further details. LINK

ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT Bloomberg's Terry Atlas: " Obama Urges Netanyahu to Make Peace Now to Avert Fallout" President Barack Obama urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "seize the moment" to make peace, saying time is running out to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. In an interview with Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, the president said he believes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist." LINK

CONGRESS The Boston Globe's Noah Bierman and Kimberly Railey: " Congress back to business but it's still not working" Reading from George Washington's farewell address, the senator from Maine reopened Congress this week after an extended recess with an appeal to lawmakers' better nature, warning against excessive factionalism and impure motives. But as independent Senator Angus King recited the founding father's prescription for better governance, its intended audience was absent. LINK

GOP The Washington Post's Robert Costa: " House GOP Budget Will Focus On Reforming Welfare, Overhauling Social Programs" As a direct counter to President Obama's recent emphasis on the gap between rich and poor, the upcoming House Republican budget will focus on welfare reform and recommend a sweeping overhaul of social programs, including Head Start and Medicaid. The push, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, returns the GOP's attention to a policy front that animated the party in the 1990s and signals Republicans' desire to expand their pitch to voters ahead of this year's midterm elections. This new effort comes after the party spent months fixated on combating the federal health-care law and engaged in intraparty squabbles over fiscal strategy. LINK

The New York Times' Ashley Parker: " Giving Early Taste Of G.O.P. Tactics, Texans Make A Stand Against Obama" Todd Staples has some fighting words for President Obama in an ad he has run more than 50 times on his quest to win Tuesday's Republican primary for lieutenant governor of Texas. "You're not a king, and Texans bow to no one," Mr. Staples says, looking directly into the camera and addressing the president, before he is shown picking up a gun at a store, aiming it over a counter and vowing to "fight Obama's liberal agenda." LINK

The Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow: " Conservatives frustrated by GOP's compromises, lack of leadership" Prominent Republicans see no evidence that their party's electoral successes have advanced the cause of limited government and moral governance. "Today, our party's leaders act like thermometers measuring the temperature of the electorate. We need to be the thermostats and set the temperature," said Rob McCoy, pastor of Calvary Chapel, a few minutes' drive from the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " 'This Week': Crisis in Ukraine" LINK " 'This Week': John Kerry" LINK " 'This Week': U.S. Response to Russia" LINK " 'This Week': Obama's 'My Brother's Keeper'" LINK " 'This Week': Ben Affleck's Spotlight on Congo" LINK

BOOKMARKS The Note: LINK ABC News Politics: LINK George Stephanopoulos' Blog: LINK ABC News on Twitter: @ThisWeekABC | @ABCPolitics ABC News Mobile: LINK ABC News Apps: LINK ABC News YouTube: LINK

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