Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to President Barack Obama for 90 minutes on the phone Saturday about the escalating situation in Ukraine, the White House said.
The White House said that Obama expressed “deep concern” over Russia’s “clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The Russian government also released a statement on the phone call, which was translated into English by Breaking News Wire. The Russian government’s statement said that Putin called Obama to explain why Russia was sending troops to Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. From the statement:
In response to the concern shown by Barack Obama regarding possible plans of the use of Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin drew attention to the provocative criminal acts by ultra-nationalist elements, which are in fact encouraged by the current authorities in Kiev.
The Russian President stressed the existence of real threats to the lives and health of Russian citizens and compatriots on Ukrainian territory. Vladimir Putin stressed that in the case of further spread of violence in the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea, Russia reserves the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population.
A senior administration official said that members of Obama’s national security team met Saturday at the White House to “discuss potential policy options” in response to Russia’s plans for intervention. Obama did not attend, but was briefed on the meeting.
“The President’s national security team met today to receive an update on the situation in Ukraine and discuss potential policy options,” the senior administration official said. “We will provide further updates later this afternoon.”
The news that Russia would intervene in Crimea came after a tense few months in Ukraine among pro-Russian and pro-Western European people. Last week, the conflict there that culminated in the ouster last week of the country’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.
Here’s the full White House readout of the call:
President Obama spoke for 90 minutes this afternoon with President Putin of Russia about the situation in Ukraine. President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and which is inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act. The United States condemns Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory.
The United States calls on Russia to de-escalate tensions by withdrawing its forces back to bases in Crimea and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine. We have consistently said that we recognise Russia’s deep historic and cultural ties to Ukraine and the need to protect the rights of ethnic Russian and minority populations within Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has made clear its commitment to protect the rights of all Ukrainians and to abide by Ukraine’s international commitments, and we will continue to urge them to do so.
President Obama told President Putin that, if Russia has concerns about the treatment of ethnic Russian and minority populations in Ukraine, the appropriate way to address them is peacefully through direct engagement with the government of Ukraine and through the dispatch of international observers under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council or the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As a member of both organisations, Russia would be able to participate. President Obama urged an immediate effort to initiate a dialogue between Russia and the Ukrainian government, with international facilitation, as appropriate. The United States is prepared to participate.
President Obama made clear that Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would negatively impact Russia’s standing in the international community. In the coming hours and days, the United States will urgently consult with allies and partners in the UN Security Council, the North Atlantic Council, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and with the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum. The United States will suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8. Going forward, Russia’s continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation.
The people of Ukraine have the right to determine their own future. President Obama has directed his Administration to continue working urgently with international partners to provide support for the Ukrainian government, including urgent technical and financial assistance. Going forward, we will continue consulting closely with allies and partners, the Ukrainian government and the International Monetary Fund, to provide the new government with significant assistance to secure financial stability, to support needed reforms, to allow Ukraine to conduct successful elections, and to support Ukraine as it pursues a democratic future.
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