Ukraine crisis worsens as Putin rebuffs Obama

March 7, 2014 | By | Reply More

Mar 07, – Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the country’s moves in Ukraine as being consistent with international law during a phone call with President Obama, escalating a high-stakes standoff over Moscow’s military incursion into Crimea.

hromedia Ukraine crisis worsens as Putin rebuffs Obama eu news2President Obama and Putin spoke for an hour by phone Thursday as the administration moved on several fronts to counter Russia’s aggression in the Crimean peninsula.

A statement published on the Kremlin website early Friday said that during the call, Vladimir Putin condemned the newly formed Kiev government as the result of an “anti-constitutional coup” and said Russia was “unable to ignore” requests for protection from the region.

Putin stressed the importance of Russian-American relations, and said he hoped they would not become “a victim of disagreement” on certain issues.

The White House said Obama emphasized to Putin that “Russia’s actions are in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which has led us to take several steps in response in coordination with our European partners.”

These included sending U.S. fighter jets to allied countries, imposing visa restrictions on Russians and strongly decrying a planned referendum in Crimea to split from Ukraine and join Russia.

The call was the first known contact between the two leaders since Saturday, shortly after Russian troops moved into Crimea.

The White House said Obama told Putin there still was a way to resolve the situation diplomatically, which would include the Ukraine and Russian governments holding direct talks, international monitors and Russian forces returning to their bases. There was no indication of Putin’s response.

Obama also spoke late Thursday with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and both leaders agreed that Russia’s actions threaten international peace and security, according to The White House.

Obama and Abe spoke of the importance of preserving Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and agreed to work bilaterally and through the International Monetary Fund to support the government in Kiev as Ukraine works to stabilize its economy and prepare for May elections.

Earlier Thursday, Obama said at the White House,”We are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”

Obama was reacting to a vote in Crimea to join Russia — which is scheduled for a referendum in 10 days. Obama, echoed by the State Department, said this move would “violate the Ukrainian Constitution and violate international law.”

The president said there is still a path to resolve the crisis, and urged Russia to let international monitors into Ukraine as part of that. But, referring to a boosted U.S. military presence among NATO partners, Obama said the U.S. is taking steps “to reaffirm our commitment to the security and democracy of our allies in Eastern Europe.”

Among those steps, six F-15s landed in Lithuania, along with two K-135 refueling tankers, on Thursday morning.

Polish officials also claimed that the U.S. was sending 12 F-16s to Poland, along with 300 U.S. troops. The Pentagon, though, said no decision had been made, though “Secretary Hagel is committed to increasing our participation in the aviation detachment in Poland, a detachment he visited recently.”

The U.S. Navy also announced it is sending a guided-missile destroyer to the Black Sea as part of a “scheduled” deployment.

The Navy stressed that the USS Truxtun would be leaving from Greece for “previously planned” exercises with Romanian and Bulgarian Naval forces. But the ship movement comes as the Pentagon overtly boosts its NATO presence in the region, as part of an effort to shore up allies in the face of Russia’s advances.

The USS Truxtun will be detaching from the USS George H.W. Bush strike group, currently in the Mediterranean. Another ship, the USS Taylor, had previously been in the Black Sea but ran aground and is currently undergoing repairs in Turkey.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration was moving ahead Thursday with additional sanctions and visa restrictions on Russians in response to the country’s incursion in Ukraine.And the House voted Thursday to approve a $1 billion loan guarantee package for Ukraine.

At a hearing on Capitol Hill, a top State Department official also blasted Russia’s version of events, which it used to justify its use of the military — just hours after the department issued a blistering fact sheet on the topic.

“There are no confirmed reports of threats to ethnic Russians,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Press coordinator for HRO media – Norberto Lluch contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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