News / Europe

Obama Hosts Ukrainian PM in Signal to Russia

Obama Hosts Ukrainian Prime Minister in Signal to Russiai
March 13, 2014 2:30 AM
President Barack Obama welcomed interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to the White House Wednesday as part of U.S. efforts to defuse the growing crisis between Washington and Moscow. VOA's Luis Ramirez reports.
Obama Hosts Ukrainian Prime Minister in Signal to Russia
Luis Ramirez
President Barack Obama welcomed interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to the White House Wednesday as part of U.S. efforts to defuse the growing crisis between Washington and Moscow over the situation in Ukraine's Crimean region.
Prime Minister Yatsenyuk was welcomed at the White House with all the fanfare of a head of state visit as Obama hosted the Ukrainian leader in the Oval Office.  The welcome was meant as a sign that Ukraine's new government has U.S. support and recognition.
"It is a pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Yatsenyuk to the Oval Office, to the White House. I think all of us have seen the courage of the Ukrainian people in standing up on behalf of democracy,” said Obama/
The message is meant for Russia and is Washington's latest attempt to get the Russians to call their troops back to their bases from the positions they have taken in Ukraine's Crimea region.
Despite U.S. efforts to reduce tensions, the crisis is deepening, as a Russian-sponsored referendum draws near in Crimea that could decide whether the region splits off from Ukraine and potentially joins Russia.
Obama said Russia could choose another path.
"We will not recognize, certainly, any referendum that goes forward. My hope is that as a consequence of diplomatic efforts over the next several days, that there will be a rethinking of the process that's been put forward," said Obama.  
The Ukrainian leader thanked Obama for his support.
"Mr. President, it is all about the freedom. We fight for our freedom. We fight for our independence. We fight for our sovereignty and we will never surrender," said Yatsenyuk.
The United States has sent additional warplanes to central Europe, but maintains it does not want a military solution. 
Washington announced it is now enforcing visa restrictions laid out last week - part of the cost that Washington said Moscow will pay if it does not stop interfering in Crimea.
Secretary of State John Kerry met with the Ukrainian leader and will later head to London for more difficult talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. 
Whether the strong words have any effect on Russia's actions remains to be seen.
"We can say all we want, but Putin has taken Crimea and that's a fact.  And I think we have to draw a distinction.  If we want our words of unacceptability, of not recognizing this as not being legitimate.  If we want those words to mean something, we also have to be prepared to take actions," said Kurt Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO.
Ukraine's new leader leaves Washington with a package of U.S. support to boost his fragile government, including $1 billion in loan guarantees that are pending congressional approval.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
March 13, 2014 12:06 PM
Nobody seems to understand what the US means by freedom and liberty nowadays. Why should this man talk about freedom and deny same to the Crimean region? What I see is a situation where the much boasting will rather aggravate the situation. It is not enough that the US is saying it does not have the military option, it is better to see Russia in the light of what it is - a military power that cannot be easily threatened by facebook-type bully. To call a spade a spade, the US should spelt out what exactly it is doing to assuage Russia so it can agree to leave Crimea. But what is the true solution, to abandon Crimea's hunger for self actualization just because the West must be seen to win even where its winning is detrimental to common sense? No. Crimea's self determination must be taken into account - Obama supporting Yatsenyuk or not.

by: Igor from: Russia
March 13, 2014 5:27 AM
Yatsenyuk said "it is all about the freedom. We fight for our freedom. We fight for our independence. We fight for our sovereignty.."
But he must keep in mind that he does not stand for the whole population. Ukrainians in the South East and Crimea do not need his kind of lawless freedom and independence. As to sovereignty, Crime used to belong to Russia and will be returned to Russia because the people there love freedom and independence from Kiev. It is their will.

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