President Obama says the United States military will not take action in Ukraine.
Obama told St. Louis's KSDK-TV that the United States does "not need to trigger an actual war with Russia."
"The Ukrainians don’t want that, nobody would want that. But what we can do is stand up for principles and stand by the Ukrainian people," he said.
Obama's statements come as Russian-backed forces have moved aggressively in Crimea and Ukraine's security chief said the country is planning to evacuate its troops.
The U.S. involvement in Ukraine has been solely financial, with the United States and Europe announcing sanctions against senior Russian political and military officials Monday. Secretary of State John F. Kerry pledged money and technical support to Ukraine earlier this month. That aid is contingent upon Congress, which has not yet voted on authorizing it. Some members of Congress, including Sen. John McCain, have called for U.S. military aid to Ukraine.
The sanctions came hours after Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to break away from Ukraine. Shortly thereafter, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a "sovereign and independent state." On Tuesday, Putin and the new leader of Crimea signed a treaty accepting the region as part of Russia, defying the United States and European Union.
Obama said he believes Putin's "strategic decisions are no way based on whether he thought that we might go to war over this."