President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday that he was deeply concerned about the Russian Parliament’s vote to approve military action in Ukraine, according to the White House.
Obama described the move as a clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, a breach of international law, including the United Nations Charter and Russia’s 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine.
The two men spoke for 90 minutes Saturday afternoon after the Parliament’s unanimous vote to send troops to Crimea. Putin made a written statement outlining the reasons such an audacious move was necessary, saying he was doing it to protect Russian lives. The Russian navy’s Black Sea Fleet is based in Crimea and the majority of Crimea’s population is ethnic Russians.
Obama told Putin that Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty “would negatively impact” Russia’s standing in the international community. The U.S. also announced it was suspending its participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8 to be held in Russia later this year.
“Russia’s continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation,” according to the statement.
The United States has consistently said it recognizes Russia’s historic and cultural ties to Ukraine and the need to protect the rights of Russian and minority populations within Ukraine,” according to the White House. And, it said, the Ukrainian government is committed to protect the rights of all Ukrainians.
Obama told 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 through the U.N. Security Council or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. As a member of both organizations, Russia would be able to participate.
Obama urged an immediate effort to initiate a dialogue between Russia and the Ukrainian government.
Anita Kumar is a writer for the McClatchy-Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com.