US President Barack Obama has welcomed the unified position of the European Union on the crisis in Ukraine.
“The President welcomed the conclusions of the March 6 European Council and the unified position of the United States and the European Union regarding Ukraine,” the White House said after the telephone call between Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.
Obama and Merkel agreed on the need for Russia to pull back its forces, allow for the deployment of international observers and human rights monitors to Crimea, and support free and fair presidential elections in May, the White House said.
“They discussed the need for Russia to agree quickly on the formation of a contact group that will lead to direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate the situation and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” the statement said.
Obama and Merkel reiterated their grave concern over Russia’s clear violation of international law through its military intervention in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as a follow up to Obama’s call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a day earlier.
During the call, Kerry underscored the importance of finding a constructive way to resolve the situation diplomatically, which would address the interests of the people of Ukraine, Russia, and the international community. The two top diplomats agreed to continue to consult in the days ahead on the way forward.
Kerry then spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to debrief him on his conversation with Lavrov and to stay in closest possible coordination on how the US and the international community can continue to support the people and government of Ukraine.
In related development, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke this morning with his Ukrainian counterpart Ihor Tenyukh.