SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (CNN, March 1st, 2014)- In a 90-minute conversation Saturday, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin “his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the U.N. Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine,” according to a statement released by the White House.
“…President Obama made clear that Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would negatively impact Russia’s standing in the international community.”
According to an account of the conversation released by the Kremlin, Putin stressed “the presence of real dangers to the lives and health of Russians who are currently present in the Ukrainian territory.” Putin said that Russia reserves the right to defend its interests and the Russian-speaking people who live there.
Russia’s Parliament signed off Saturday on President Vladimir Putin’s request to send military forces into Ukraine, raising the stakes in a quickly escalating game of brinksmanship between the two countries.
Putin cited the “extraordinary situation in Ukraine” in his request, adding that the lives of Russian citizens and military personnel based in southern Crimea had been threatened, a claim Ukrainian officials have vehemently denied.
The move prompted world diplomats to call for a de-escalation of tensions that have put the two countries on a possible path to war and roiled relations between Russia and the United States.