U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed a “diplomatic solution” to the Ukrainian crisis during a Friday phone call. They also discussed the “continued rampage of extremists who are committing acts of intimidation towards peaceful residents, government authorities, and law enforcement agencies” in various regions of Ukraine.
How much emphasis was placed on each point depends on whose version of the call you read.
The White House and the Kremlin released two very different accounts of the two leaders’ phone call on Friday. The White House emphasised the possibility of a diplomatic solution, noting that Obama pressed Putin and Russia to deliver a written response to the U.S.’s proposal for a diplomatic solution.
The Kremlin, meanwhile, focused on the “rampage of extremists.” It also mentioned the two leaders discussed the breakaway region of Transnistria, which some have worried will be Putin’s next target for a land grab. The White House neglected to mention this part of the conversation.
There was only one major facet the two readouts had in common: Both acknowledged that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would meet in the near future to discuss ways to stabilise the situation.
The major difference between the two readouts was the White House’s omission Putin’s mention of Transnistria.
Transnistria is a sliver of land outside of Moldova that many have speculated is Russia’s next target for a land grab. It broke away from Moldova in 1990, but has not been recognised since by any United Nations member state. About 30 per cent of its population is ethnic Russian. Some, including the commander of NATO forces in Europe, fear it could become the next European crisis and serve as an entry point for Putin to make a move against Moldovan territory. Russia held military drills in the region this week.
The call between Obama and Putin came as Russia has reportedly amassed nearly 40,000 troops at the Ukrainian border. A U.S. intelligence report on Wednesday had warned of a “more probable” Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Here’s the full readout of the Obama-Putin call from the White House:
President Putin called President Obama today to discuss the U.S. proposal for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, which Secretary Kerry had again presented to Foreign Minister Lavrov at the meeting at the Hague earlier this week, and which we developed following U.S. consultations with our Ukrainian and European partners. President Obama suggested that Russia put a concrete response in writing and the presidents agreed that Kerry and Lavrov would meet to discuss next steps.
President Obama noted that the Ukrainian government continues to take a restrained and de-escalatory approach to the crisis and is moving ahead with constitutional reform and democratic elections, and urged Russia to support this process and avoid further provocations, including the buildup of forces on its border with Ukraine.
President Obama underscored to President Putin that the United States continues to support a diplomatic path in close consultation with the Government of Ukraine and in support of the Ukrainian people with the aim of de-escalation of the crisis. President Obama made clear that this remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. President Obama reiterated that the United States has strongly opposed the actions that Russia has already taken to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
And here’s the Kremlin’s readout:
The two leaders continued exchanging views on the crisis in Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin drew Barack Obama’s attention to continued rampage of extremists who are committing acts of intimidation towards peaceful residents, government authorities and law enforcement agencies in various regions and in Kiev with impunity.
In light of this, the President of Russia suggested examining possible steps the global community can take to help stabilise the situation. The two presidents agreed that specific parameters for this joint work will be discussed by the Russian and US foreign ministers in the near future.
Vladimir Putin also pointed out that Transnistria is essentially experiencing a blockade, which significantly complicate the living conditions for the region’s residents, impeding their movement and normal trade and economic activities. He stressed that Russia stands for the fair and comprehensive settlement of the Transnistria conflict and hopes for effective work in the existing 5+2 negotiation format.
Vladimir Putin also pointed out that Transnistria is essentially experiencing a blockade, which significantly complicate the living conditions for the region’s residents, impeding their movement and normal trade and economic activities,” the Kremlin said in its readout.
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