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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

Journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward on the death of legendary news editor Ben Bradlee.

Journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward on the death of legendary news editor Ben Bradlee.

world lead

March 3rd, 2014
06:47 PM ET

Rep. Royce: Congress is ready with tough sanctions on Russia, but is the White House?

(CNN) – Although Russia's foreign minister rejected claims his country was acting aggressively in Ukraine, his European Union counterparts met in Brussels to condemn what they called Russia's "clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity." They demanded Moscow pull its troops back or face possible sanctions.

Here in the U.S., State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that sanctions against Russia weren't just possible, but likely.

Republican Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee says Congress is ready to act.

"We're going to be very bullish on doing what we need to do to make ... Putin feel the heat, or at least have the oligarchs around him, the business community, feel the kinds of pressure that's going to come if they don't cease and desist," Royce said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

"The question is will the White House support something as aggressive as the economic sanctions that we would like to see pushed," said Royce.
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politics lead

March 3rd, 2014
06:25 PM ET

Roundtable: What's Obama's next move in Ukraine?

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's words from a 2012 presidential debate against Republican candidate Mitt Romney must be haunting him.

"A few months ago, when you were asked what is the biggest geopolitical group facing america, you said Russia – not al-Qaeda," Obama said to Romney. "And the 1980's are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War has been over for 20 years."

Meanwhile 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is doing a bit of a victory lap today.

"After the Russian army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence – the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next," Palin said in October 2008.

Panned at the time for the prediction, Palin now says of the crisis in Ukraine: "Yes, I could see this one from Alaska."

The big question: Should the White House have seen this coming?
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world lead

March 3rd, 2014
06:11 PM ET

Fmr. U.S. Ambassador to Russia: Russian claims of violence in Ukraine are 'complete fantasy'

(CNN) – At an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting Monday to discuss the unfolding crisis in Ukraine, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin read a letter from ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, describing Ukraine as a country "on the brink of civil war," plagued by "chaos and anarchy."

The United States' ambassador accused Russia of breaking international law and responding to an "imaginary threat."

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul agrees.
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world lead

March 3rd, 2014
06:08 PM ET

White House official: I don't know if Putin lied to Obama, or changed his mind

(CNN) – President Barack Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone this weekend for 90 minutes, but that wasn't enough to convince the former KGB colonel to pull his troops out of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

By late Sunday, Russian forces had complete operational control of the critical land mass. Vice President Joe Biden tried his own telephone diplomacy Monday, calling Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to implore a peaceful withdrawal. But the answer, again, was "nyet."
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world lead

March 3rd, 2014
05:32 PM ET

Fmr. U.S. Ambassador to Russia: There is no neat way to divide Ukraine

(CNN) – Russia released statements of President Vladimir Putin's calls with leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus Monday.

"The leaders discussed the development of the crisis in Ukraine, which is creating a real threat to the lives and legal interests of the Russian-speaking population, first and foremost in Crimea and the eastern regions of the country," Putin's office said.

This may be the precedent Russia is setting to justify its military incursion into Crimea, southern Ukraine, but mentioning the eastern regions of the country would seem to be setting the stage for perhaps their next move militarily.

"I'm deeply concerned by that, because, you know, these things start in one way and then there are unintended consequences," said former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. "There's a shootout in one city and suddenly you have an action/reaction process that can create new kinds of movements into eastern Ukraine."
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