WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Wednesday Russia can expect further sanctions if it steps up support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
"What I have said consistently is that each time Russia takes these kinds of steps that are designed to destabilize Ukraine and violate their sovereignty, that there are going to be consequences," he said in an interview with CBS.
The president spoke about the crisis in Ukraine, which he blamed squarely on Moscow, on the eve of a meeting in Geneva in which Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union will try to defuse the standoff.
U.S. officials said they are prepared to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia if the talks fail to ease tensions.
Obama said Russia has been hurt by sanctions already levied in connection with Crimea's separation from Ukraine in March, which the United States and its allies said was the result of Russian intervention.
"Mr. Putin's decisions are not just bad for Ukraine, over the long term they're going to be bad for Russia," he said.
Obama said he believes that Russia is not interested in any military confrontation with the United States, which has superior military forces.
"We don't need a war," he said.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Chris Reese and Mohammad Zargham)