In a message about the aggression coming from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk invoked former U.S. President Ronald Reagan while speaking to reporters in front of the White House Wednesday.
“My message to President Putin, Mr. Putin, tear down this wall, the wall of war, intimidation, and military aggression,” he said. “Let’s stop. Let’s calm down.”
Before speaking by himself to reporters, Yatsenyuk met with President Barack Obama at the White House as the United States and most western allies struggle for a solution Russia moving forces into annex the Crimea region.
Crimea will hold a referendum this weekend where its largely Russian speaking population will vote on whether to break away from Ukraine and become part of Russia. This violates the Ukrainian constitution.
Yatsenyuk took just one question, when a reporter asked if he believed Putin would back down.
“It depends on the goals of President Putin. If it’s to have the stability, peace and prosperity in Europe, it’s to go back and start real talks,” Yatsenyuk answered. “If he wants to redraw the lines and to change or undermine entire global security and revise the outcomes of the second World War, they will move forward.”
He said, “In this case the idea is not just to annex Crimea but to invade central Ukraine, Ukrainian capital, and to stop the war.”
The problem is that Russia does not want to talk.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to have Russian boots on the Ukrainian ground in the 21st Century, violating all international deals and treaties,” Yatsenyuk said. “I want to be very clear, saying on behalf of the Ukrainian government, we are ready to negotiate. But it’s difficult to have any kind of talk having the barrel knocked at your head.”
The embattled leader expressed gratitude to the United States.
“We highly appreciate the U.S. support, both economic and politic, and we do believe in the near future the new Ukrainian government will be ready to deliver real change,” he said. “But in order to deliver these changes, we need to stop the Russian military.”
Before the Ukrainian leader spoke to reporters in front of the White House, he and Obama made a joint appearance.
“There’s another path available and we hope President Putin is willing to seize that path,” Obama said. “But if he does not, I’m very confident that the international community will stand firmly behind the Ukrainian government.”