President Barack Obama on Thursday rejected Crimea's plan to leave Ukraine and join Russia as not compatible with democracy or international law.
“The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law,” Obama told reporters during a brief statement at the White House Thursday. “Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin moved troops into the Crimea region of Ukraine, claiming that the new government is abusing the ethnic Russians in the region, though he has offered little evidence.
Both the United States and European Union are offering aid packages to the financially strapped Ukraine.
Obama proposed what he called a path to peace.
“Let international monitors into all of Ukraine, including Crimea, to ensure the rights of Ukrainians are being respected, including ethnic Russians,” Obama said. “Begin consultations between the government of Russia and Ukraine with the participation of the international community. Russia would maintain its basing rights in Crimea, provided that it abides by its agreements and respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. And the world should support the people of Ukraine as they move to elections in May. That's the path of deescalation.”
He said that Secretary of State John Kerry is reaching out to all sides to pursue that path.
“If this violation international law continues, the resolve of the United States and our allies and the international community will remain firm,” Obama vowed. “Meanwhile we've taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to the security and democracy of our allies in Eastern Europe and to support the people of Ukraine.”