TODAY   |  March 03, 2014

Ukraine leader: ‘We are on the brink of disaster’

Russian troops now have complete control of Ukraine’s Crimea region. The president has criticized the action and prepares to send Secretary of State John Kerry to the region. NBC’s Bill Neely reports.

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>>> in ukraine where russian forces have invaded and complete control of the region. this has left the white house with a very difficult decision of what to do next, how far to push this. secretary of state john kerry getting set to travel to the region. bill, good morning to you.

>> reporter: yes, russia is tightening its grip here. europe's borders are being redrawn by force and the pressure is mounting on president obama and the west to do something. here, russian troops have the ukrainian army pinned down. russian troops have fought many wars, this time they didn't have to. they marched in and occupied it without firing a shot and without resistance. it took just three days. the russian march is relentless and seems unstoppable. the big question is, where exactly in ukraine will these men stop? they still surround ukrainian army bases. this one is the biggest. ukrainian troops inside are trapped. they have removed their weapons. there's no sign they're preparing to fight the russians. the standoff, though, is a dangerous one. neither ukraine nor the west has been able to stop this takeover.

>> it's an incredible act of aggression. it is really a stunning, willful choice by president putin to invade another country.

>> the obama administration is now consulting with allies on what pressure to put on russia's president putin .

>> he may find himself with asset freezes, american business may pull back. there may be a further tumble of the ruble. there's a huge price to pay.

>> you've got now only economic options through the eu. and i would use those.

>> the u.s. calls what's happened an incredible act of aggression. but this crisis is far from over. and in the last few minutes, russian fighter jets have flown over the black sea , violating ukraine 's air space . the russians testing, probing, pushing ukraine and pushing the west's response. savannah.

>> bill neely on the ground