US President Barack Obama and his European allies expressed “grave concern” over Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, terming it a threat to international peace and security.
President Obama spoke separately with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and German Chancellor Angela Merkel last afternoon and discussed the Ukrainian crisis.
“The leaders expressed their grave concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law and a threat to international peace and security,” the White House said in a statement yesterday.
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They stressed that the dialogue between Ukraine and Russia should start immediately, with international facilitation as appropriate, it said.
The leaders affirmed the importance of unity within the international community in support of international law and their support for the Ukrainian government, including its territorial integrity and its efforts to move forward with elections in May so that the Ukrainian people can continue to determine their own future in this historic hour.
According to the White House, leaders pledged to work together on a package of multilateral and bilateral financial assistance to help Ukraine as it pursues urgently needed reforms to stabilise its economy.
“The leaders agreed to continue to coordinate closely, including bilaterally, and through appropriate international organisations,” the statement said.
Earlier, President Obama had warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin against violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and asked him to pull the forces back to their bases in Crimea or face political and economic isolation.
Kerry will travel to Ukraine
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Kiev tomorrow to show support for the Ukrainian government after Russia’s intrusion into the country.
“In Kiev on March 4, Secretary Kerry will meet with senior representatives of Ukraine’s new government, leaders of the Rada, and members of civil society,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said yesterday.
“The Secretary will reaffirm the United States’ strong support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference or provocation,” Psaki said.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland will also travel to Vienna and Austria where she will meet with senior officials of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and represent the US at a special meeting of the OSCE permanent council on Ukraine.
Earlier, in an interview to the ABC News, Kerry hoped that the Russian military action in Ukraine is not going to be a disaster.
“What has already happened is a brazen act of aggression in violation of international law, in violation of the UN Charter, in violation of the Helsinki Final Act, in violation of the 1997 Ukraine-Russia basing agreement,” he said.
“Russia has engaged in a military act of aggression against another country and it has huge risks. It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century that really puts at question Russia’s capacity to be within the G8,” he added.
“We are busy right now coordinating with our counterparts in many parts of the world,” he said, referring to the series of global outreach by the US leaders including President Barack Obama.
“We are not looking for a US-Russia, East-West redux here. What we want is for Russia to work with us, with Ukraine. If they have legitimate concerns about Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, there are plenty of ways to deal with that without invading the country,” he said.
“They have the ability to work with the government; they could work with us; they could work with the UN; they could call for observers to be put in the country. There are all kinds of alternatives. But Russia has chosen this aggressive act which really puts in question Russia’s role in the world and Russia’s willingness to be a modern nation and part of the G8,” Kerry said.
“The invasion of Crimea has already happened. That’s absolutely accurate. And we believe that President Putin should make the decision to roll it back. And we will continue to press for that as well as for his legitimate engagement with the current Government of Ukraine in order to avoid further increase in the tension and the crisis,” he said.