News / USA

Washington React: Obama Aims to Work With Putin to Calm Ukraine

Luis Ramirez
The United States says it respects Russia's interests in Ukraine, but that it expects Moscow to pull its troops back to their bases and stop violating Ukraine's sovereignty. 

But Russia is showing no signs of backing down as troops continue to take up positions in Crimea and a Russian-sponsored referendum that could result in the region becoming part of the Russian Federation draws near.

White House Spokesman Jay Carney speaks to reporters on March 11, 2014.White House Spokesman Jay Carney speaks to reporters on March 11, 2014.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney speaks to reporters on March 11, 2014.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney speaks to reporters on March 11, 2014.
The Obama administration is trying to give Russia a way out of the crisis.  White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday said the U.S. goal is to see a de-escalation of the situation.

“We are working to see if the Russians are willing to resolve this matter diplomatically," he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the telephone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for 45 minutes on Tuesday, but reported no progress.

Carney indicated the United States is not opposed to a continued Russian role in Crimea, as long as Russian troops return to their bases.

“What we're talking about when we say that we absolutely recognize that Russia has interests in Ukraine and they include in Crimea, we're referring specifically to the Black Sea fleet base - for example - which is in Crimea, a Russian naval base as part of an agreement with the sovereign nation of Ukraine and that we completely respect," Carney said.

One of the reasons Russia has given for intervening in Crimea is its concern for what it says is the rights of the ethnic Russian minority living there.  The Obama administration has called on the Ukrainian government to honor the rights of ethnic Russians, but has also said it does not believe Russian reports that members of that minority have been abused.

In the meantime, U.S. officials say they are assessing whether to begin implementing the visa restrictions and financial sanctions that President Obama announced last week if Russia continues its moves to consolidate control over Crimea.

Analyst Michael O'Hanlon with the Brookings Institution in Washington says the Obama administration will have no choice but to step up penalties if Russia makes no concessions.

“If things stay as they are, I think we need to apply some sanctions that are hurtful to the Russian elite," O'Hanlon said. "I’m not suggesting broad-based sanctions based on this referendum and potential annexation of Crimea.  I’m not suggesting we try to go after their energy sector or all their banks.  But I think that Putin and his cronies need to have some targeted sanctions on their visas, their travel and their bank accounts and be put in place and stay in place.”

The United States also wants Russia to begin a dialogue with the Ukrainian government, which Moscow does not recognize.  

Obama is preparing to host Ukraine's interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, on Wednesday.  The invitation is a message to Russia that the new Ukrainian government has Washington's support.

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Comments page of 2
by: Simon from: Australia
March 12, 2014 9:24 AM
This will be quite fitting for a coup leader and Obama to have a pow-wow. Two people who talk of democracy but undermine the principles thereof.This visit is just more Obama swag...more smoke and mirrors from a president that would love the "Hollywood" sign placed above the statue of Liberty, "Hollywood best represents American values," he says. He has just done an interview to attract the youth vote. Must be getting ready for hand outs rather than a hand up.

Well he is alwsys right in his own mind as he gives us a great mix of fiction mixed with non-fiction storylines.. Meanwhile back in the real world....the real what they call... "Water Shed in Modern History" is Libya with America, France and Britain...and Johnny-come-lately Germany exercising their mission creep and murder. That opened the floodgates of a new arms race...Nations now know if they do not have nuclear weapons their sovereignty at any moment could be kicked to the wayside. The Ukraine is as successful for the West in sending other troubling messages like..."If you don't like your government have a coup." Much worse that "If you like your health plan you can keep it."

Following the example in the Ukraine protestors in Libya took you up on your version of international law and started shooting MP's and storming Congress. Clearly....undeniably... after "Libya"... NATO...the E.U and the U.N has very little credibility.As I said before those 67% of Americans who as it stands, would like to throw their lawmakers to the street if they could, may wish to consider the option when their gas bills become unaffordable as vast amounts of gas are exported to Europe to play cold war games. What did Obama say to Romney..."Hhhh...the cold war ended 20 years ago." Well he is in a hurry to bring it back after the Libyan mission creep and the supporting of a coup with the E.U. Just look at the current state of Libya. I'm sure Putin will do a better job with Crimea but I think the E.U and America are determined for the Ukraine to become another Libya. If they cannot have it all they will wreck it all. That's their legacy folks just look at the middle-east.

by: Simonzee1 from: Australia
March 12, 2014 9:22 AM
All Obama and the EU has done is lost Crimea while the rest of the East descends into civil war. Look at Libya now... and that is the template. We will see pipelines attacked by the far-right or other terrorists to disrupt gas supplies to Europe; and America will use all the chaos to start exporting gas to Europe but with the price that Americans and their industry will pay more for gas. More jobs for Europe with cheap gas. Less jobs for America with expensive gas. That's how Obama rolls!

by: PermReader
March 12, 2014 8:25 AM
Usual Obama`s blah blah.Await for the republican senate and kongress.

by: eric from: Poland
March 12, 2014 6:02 AM
Russia will destroy itself,if Ukraine will live in EU. Putin must break a war if he wants to be president forever. For Russians it means poverty, richer typhoons,poor medicine,salary and so on. The World doesn't believe Russia anymore!! Russia is on verge of revolution.

by: Alexandr Albov from: Belarus
March 12, 2014 2:42 AM
"The Obama administration is trying to give Russia a way out of the crisis.."
The deal is that Russia not in crisis. In crisis is policy of some western countryes toward Ukraine as a many others countryes.
As said China: "Russia is not problem - Russia that solution".

by: Smith from: Finland
March 12, 2014 2:40 AM
It seems like Putin iis going to expand its borders far west... Finland, Baltic can be next in queue. Of course,serious sanctions must imposed on Russia!!!!!!!

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
March 12, 2014 2:14 AM
The reason Russia is showing no signs of backing down, because the Obama administration has shown a sign of weakness. We do understand that Mr. Obama policy is diplomacy, But at the same token, We have to show our supremacy to the world. Mr. Obama is looking at Russia taking key position in Crimea and he is doing nothing about Russia occupation. and If Russia holds the high point in Crimea, for the US and its allied to move in , they will have difficulties. With Mr. Putin in power, the situation cannot de escalate. Cuz Mr. Putin primary goal is to take over Ukraine, Crimea and some of his neighboring Countries. The ethnic Russian minority were never harm in Crimea. That is a lied from the Putin administration. If that was the case, the whole world would have known. We are calling on the Obama administration to act. Russian aggression must stop. The ICC and IC need to take Mr. Putin to court on this matter. We cannot condone such a violent act in the 21ist century. And enough is enough.

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
March 12, 2014 1:33 AM
It’s a great news that Obama Aims to Work with Putin on Ukrainian knot provided the latter will engage in talks with the interim government. But the thing is that Putin will never recognize Kyiv’s model for democratic changes and how to get rid of corrupt regime and cronyism in one go. Authoritarian regimes have left their people no other options for a democratic progress than to rely on their nationalists and far-right forces in an effort to get rid of dictators. To recognize the interim government, for Putin will be the same as to sign his own overthrow and he won’t endorse this. Analyst Michael O'Hanlon with the Brookings Institution in Washington is right when he expressed wider and wider recognized truth that Putin and his cronies, their children, wives and girlfriends need to have some targeted sanctions on their assets, their visas, their travel and their bank accounts.

by: eross from: Italy
March 12, 2014 12:44 AM
Russia is starting WW3. It is obvious... Weak Putin wants to seem strong. He doesn't have support of his people and tries to break out a war and stay in power until its end. It is going to be slow war...

by: Igor from: Russia
March 11, 2014 11:44 PM
Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his illegal government is nothing more than the puppet of the West, which has never been elected by Ukrainians and cannot represents the whole Ukraine. How can Russia, a superpower, recognize and begin a dialogue with the puppet of the West. It is beneath our dignity.
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