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Thursday, March 6, 2014

President Obama and Aide Speak on Ukraine


Though Western allies are divided over whether to bring to bear heavy pressure on Russia or take a more conciliatory path toward encouraging Moscow to reverse course in the occupied Crimea, President Obama said during a brief address to journalists at the White House that “the world can see that we are united with our allies.”

The President spoke on efforts to lessen tensions in Ukraine but also sanction both that country’s pro-Russia leaders and Moscow for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

After President Obama’s brief statement, his aides took to the lectern and held a full news conference, delving into greater detail about United States sanctions against Russia and its allied Ukrainian officials.

“Russia violated the sovereign integrity of Ukraine,” Jay Carney, the White House spokesman said, repeating what the United States and its European allies consider to be a fact, but what the Russian government rejects. Moscow says it was invited into Ukraine by its legitimate leader, Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was driven from his country by protestors.

Mr. Carney refused to say whether President Vladimir V. Putin would be subjected to punitive measures. He said no individual Russian or Russian entity has been targeted, but the executive order signed by President Obama granted the American government broad authority to impose punitive measures on people “responsible for destabilizing the Ukraine, including the invasion of Crimea.”

Mr. Carney also characterized as unconstitutional a proposed referendum that would allow Crimea to break from Ukraine and join Russia.