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Washington React: White House Downplays Role of Natural Gas in Ukraine Crisis

Obama Opposes Crimea Referendum, Orders Sanctionsi
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Cindy Saine
March 07, 2014 1:50 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday took a strong stand against a planned referendum on the future of Ukraine's Crimea region. As VOA’s Cindy Saine reports, congressional leaders are pledging support for those sanctions, and for the people of Ukraine.
Related video report by Cindy Saine.
VOA News
The White House on Friday appeared to downplay the possibility of changing U.S. policy on exporting natural gas to address the situation in Ukraine.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One that policy changes would not have an immediate effect and noted that stocks in Europe were above normal levels because of a mild winter.

Europe and Ukraine are key export markets for Russian natural gas.   

Obama, Putin Find Little Common Ground on Ukraine

Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the two leaders found little common ground. The White House says President Obama told Putin the presence of Russian forces in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula is a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.

The Kremlin says Putin denounced Ukraine's new Western-backed government as "illegitimate" and said Russia cannot "ignore" calls for help from Ukraine's Russia-leaning east and south.

Putin's spokesman said Friday that despite "deep disagreement'' with the West over Ukraine, Moscow hopes some common ground can be found and a new Cold War will not begin, Russian news agencies reported.

"There still remains hope...that some points of agreement can be found as a result of dialogue - which our partners, thank God, have not yet rejected,'' state-run RIA quoted spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying. "I believe that it [a new Cold War] has not started and I would like to believe it will not start,'' Peskov said.

According to the White House, President Obama, in his phone conversation with Putin, called for direct talks between Kyiv and Moscow that would be mediated by the international community. Obama called for all Russian forces to return to their bases and for international monitors to ensure the safety of Ukrainians, including ethnic Russians.

In Washington Thursday, the president authorized sanctions, including visa restrictions, against those found to have violated Ukraine's territorial integrity. The EU also imposed measures against Russia, suspending talks on visas and a new economic agreement.

On Capitol Hill, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to provide loan guarantees of $1 billion to Ukraine. That measure now goes to the U.S. Senate. The European Union is prepared to extend a $15 billion bailout to Kyiv if Ukraine can reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters

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by: Rick from: D.C.
March 07, 2014 2:37 PM
Yeah well, it seems to me that Yanuk did not have the support of his own military and fled like a rat when he couldn't kill enough people. If this is the definition of a "democratically elected" official then to hell with it. In any event, he quickly began assuming dictatorial powers after his election so was Ukraine even a democracy when he fled in fear and shame? Sober up stooges...

by: Margaret Syms from: US
March 07, 2014 2:20 PM
I just wanted to say to all the Republicans here who take delight in pointing out Obama's incompetence - that it was Bush who insisted that Israel withdraw from Gaza - unilaterally - and gave us Hamas..!! so please

by: Muhammed from: Sacramento
March 07, 2014 2:05 PM
I see some terrorists are already leading Chechnya with official titles. Let me know if you need solid proof, Mr.Meanbill.

by: musawi melake
March 07, 2014 11:59 AM
Mr. Obama's idea of asking for direct talks between Moscow and Kiev is lunacy!, for the rulers in Kiev did not get there in proper manner, through the ballots, but have ditched their way in to the throne. Now, with the backing of the Western world, whcih supports them just to be against the Russians, they claim decissions made at arenas supported by the people, are illiegal, sheer nonsense! Just because the US holds the strings on everything in the world(exploiting the poorer world with the MNTs) should not be interpreted as, that whatever comes out of White-House is ultimate. The alternately thinking world should teach these power-mongering West how to behave civilized. African nations should reconsider their agreements with the uS and the other Westernp powers and look for Russia and China to progress.

by: meanbill from: USA
March 07, 2014 10:57 AM
TRUTH BE TOLD..... Obama and the EU eject reality, in trying to force Putin to negotiate face to face with the US and EU supported (neo-Nazi, White-Hammer, and other ultra-Right-Wing extremist terrorists), who ousted the legal Democratic President, and Parliament, and the Democratic elected Ukraine government... "You don't negotiate with terrorists" that is the rule with all Democratic governments... (BUT?) .. the US and EU is still trying to force Putin to negotiate with the (neo-Nazi, White-Power, ultra-Right-Wing extremist terrorists), who seized by force the legal Democratic government of Ukraine.... WHAT part of "You don't negotiate with terrorist" don't the US and EU understand? ... (LOGIC?) .. The US and EU is trying to force Putin to negotiate with the Ukraine terrorist government, to give it credibility? ... (Will Putin play the fool for the US and EU), and negotiate with the Ukraine terrorists? ........ REALLY?

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