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Hagel spoke on Saturday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, a US official told Reuters. Asked about rumours that some US military units had been on alert over turmoil in the Crimean peninsula, the official said the US focus was on diplomatic options. There was no change in the US military's stance, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Senator John McCain, a leading Republican voice on foreign affairs who often advocates a more forceful approach by Washington, on Saturday called on Obama to "articulate exactly what those costs will be and to take steps urgently to impose them".

"Every moment that the United States and our allies fail to respond sends the signal to President Putin that he can be even more ambitious and aggressive in his military intervention in Ukraine," McCain said in a statement.

"There is a range of serious options at our disposal at this time without the use of military force."

Another leading Senate Republican, Bob Corker, called on Obama to lead an international response that could include sanctions.

Sanctions to Russia? Are they mad? They should be very scared if Russian impose sanctions on them...Western Europe will be very dark and cold/or hot place...not to mention cost to already badly shaped western  European economies. What do they feed them in USA? "Mad mushrooms"?  

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 11:22:49 PM EST

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