WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced $1 billion in economic and energy aid to Ukraine on Tuesday, part of its emerging response to Russian military activity in Crimea.
President Obama, aides and allies are also considering a number of economic sanctions against Russia for its incursion into the Crimea region.
The administration announced the assistance package for Ukraine as Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Kiev early Tuesday for talks with the new government.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the United States has been working with allies on a package to "help the Ukrainian government implement the reforms needed to restore financial stability and return to economic growth."
In a statement, Lew stressed the need for continuing reform in Ukraine: "The United States is prepared to work with its bilateral and multilateral partners to provide as much support as Ukraine needs ... if the new government implements the necessary reforms."
In terms of punishing Russia, Obama's options include freezing assets, visa bans, and trade and investment penalties.
The Obama administration has suspended military cooperation and bilateral trade talks with Russia, and discussed boycotting a Group of Eight nations summit that President Vladimir Putin is expected to host in June in Sochi.
"The steps Russia has taken are a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty, Ukraine's territorial integrity," Obama said Monday. "They're a violation of international law."
In televised remarks Tuesday, Putin said he reserves the right to protect Russian-speaking people in Ukraine in the wake of what he called "an anti-constitutional" coup that toppled a pro-Russia president.
Putin, who said that full military force is a "last resort," added that he would not be deterred by economic sanctions from the West.
"All threats against Russia are counterproductive and harmful," Putin said.