It began during the weekend with a surprise email from the White House: Six local TV anchors and camera crews from around the country discovered they’d been invited to interview President Obama on Wednesday, and receive VIP briefings from top Obama advisers.

They had not requested the interviews. But Obama wanted to spend four minutes with each reporting team to discuss the minimum wage and the March 31 deadline for Affordable Care Act enrollment.

He also reassured KARE-TV anchor Julie Nelson during their meeting that “ultimately we’re not going to go to war with Russia. The Ukrainians don’t want that. We don’t want that.” And he told the Minneapolis newswoman that Russian President Vladimir Putin “is acting out of weakness, not of strength.” Obama rejected Nelson’s question that he had drawn a line in the sand with Putin over Ukraine. “What we have said is not to draw lines in the sand,” the president countered, noting that sanctions against Russia were intended to compel a diplomatic solution.