Obama Pushes Diplomacy in Ukraine

President Barack Obama met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in the Oval Office March 12 to discuss potential diplomatic solutions to Russia’s ongoing military operations in Crimea. Obama praised the Ukrainian people and once again denounced the Russian incursion during a joint press conference following the bilateral meeting. He said if Russia “continues on the path that it is on” then the international community would have no choice but to take action. However, he added, “There’s another path available, and we hope that President Putin is willing to seize that path. But if he does not, I’m very confident that the international community will stand strongly behind the Ukrainian government in preserving its unity and its territorial integrity,” he said. Obama also announced plans for Secretary of State John Kerry to travel to London to meet with his Russian counterpart on Friday. The meeting comes just two days before a Russian-supported referendum in Crimea on whether to secede from Ukraine. Leaders of the G-7 (the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom), as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission also released a statement Wednesday calling for Russia to “cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea.” According to the statement, “any such referendum would have no legal effect” and would not be recognized by the international community.