Main | Saturday, March 01, 2014

Obama Calls Putin About Ukraine After Duma Votes To Allow Military Action

President Obama and Vladimir Putin this afternoon spoke by phone to discuss the worsening situation in Ukraine.
The Kremlin issued a statement saying that Putin and Obama spoke and that the Russian president “stressed the existence of real threats to life and health of Russian citizens” in Ukraine, according to a Google translation of the statement. Putin also “stressed that in the case of the further spread of violence in the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea, Russia reserves the right to protect their interests.” The call to Putin was one of several that Obama made to foreign leaders on Saturday as he and his national security advisers deliberated the administration’s response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Senior administration officials including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey were spotted leaving the West Wing following an early-afternoon meeting in which they were updated on the situation in Ukraine and “discuss[ed] potential policy options,” a White House official said.
Earlier today Russia's parliament today voted unanimously to allow military actions in Ukraine.
Putin says he proposed military action because of “the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation”. Russia’s upper house of parliament will ask President Putin to recall Moscow’s ambassador from the United States, the chamber’s speaker said on Saturday. There are thought to be up to 15,000 Russian soldiers stationed in the republic. Acting president of Ukraine, Oleksander Turchynov, has now called an emergency meeting of security chiefs. Russia has a major naval base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. The lease stipulates personnel are not allowed to take military equipment or vehicles outside the base without Ukrainian permission. Turchynov had previously warned that any move by Russian troops off of this base would “be considered a military aggression”. However, Russia claims it is acting legally, within the perimeters of its constitution.

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