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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.

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April 24th, 2014
05:35 PM ET

Analysis: Kremlin doesn't see Ukraine as a real country

(CNN) – There is no way the U.S. is going to stand by while one country takes land from another, President Barack Obama declared during his trip overseas.

But no, he wasn't talking about Russia snatching Crimea from Ukraine. He was reassuring the Japanese that the U.S. will not allow China to seize disputed territory from Japan's control.

But is Obama backing himself into a corner with another red line the U.S. will not enforce?

"The treaty between the United States and Japan preceded my birth, so obviously this isn't a red line that I'm drawing. It is the standard interpretation over multiple administrations of the terms of the alliance," Obama said.

The President has long held plans to pivot his foreign policy focus to Asia, and away from the morass in the Middle East and the old world precepts of Europe. That's what this trip is about.

But some critics are taking issue with the optics.

"... the photo-op nature of the trip risks contributing to a perception that Obama's Asian policy, and his foreign policy in general, is similarly itinerant. He's seeing the sights, getting some good pics and moving along – more tourist than architect of world affairs," The Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank writes.

While the President is in Asia for a week, the crisis in Ukraine continues to escalate. Ukranian forces killed five militants in clashes at pro-Russia strongholds, while Russia announced yet another round of military exercises. Ukraine has issued a 48-hour deadline for Russia to explain the purpose of the drills.

The crisis did pull some focus away from Obama's Asia trip during a news conference in Japan.

"We continue to see malicious and armed men taking over buildings, harassing folks who are disagreeing with them and destabilizing the region, and we haven't seen Russia step up and discourage that," Obama told reporters.

So is this trip really "all sushi, no substance?" And what does it mean for the rest of the president's foreign policy?

The New Republic's Julia Ioffe and Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg discuss.

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