German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to help construct a way for Putin to get out of the Ukraine crisis - an "off ramp," according to a U.S. senior administration official.
Merkel and President Barack Obama spoke Tuesday and talked about the off-ramp, which would include international observers, who could ensure the rights of the many ethnic Russians in Ukraine - thus taking care of a key Putin concern. Crimea will not be offered to Moscow, the administration official said. Obama presented the off-ramp during a call Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the official said.
The official told reporters that the United States is moving in the direction of sanctions imposed on Russian individuals suspected of being corrupt and other bad actors.
The official continued to say that these sanctions could go forward in the coming days. Broader sanctions in conjunction with European allies could follow, if conditions warrant.