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Putin, Obama speak after US announces sanctions
March 7, 2014, 4:29 am

File photo of Barack Obama (left) and, Vladimir Putin [AP]

File photo of Barack Obama (left) and, Vladimir Putin [AP]

In a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir putin, US President Barack Obama on Thursday said the US is opposed to Russian actions in Crimea which “are in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which has led us to take several steps in response, in coordination with our European partners”.

The Obama administration announced visa bans and the freezing of assets of Russians and Ukrainians involved in what it called ‘Russia’s takeover of Crimea’. The US has also suspended trade and investment talks and military engagement with Russia.

“We suspended preparatory meetings for the G8 in Sochi.  The United States has pulled down and cancelled discussions associated with keeping trade and commercial ties to Russia.  We’ve also cancelled military exercises and joint consultations with Russia on those specific issues, while providing additional reassurance to our European allies about our commitment to their security,” said a White House statement earlier.

Obama has suggested direct talks between the governments of Ukraine and Russia in the presence of international monitors “to ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians”.

Obama also said US Secretary of State John Kerry would continue discussions with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, though the pair had reached no agreement following their talks in Paris and Rome on Wednesday and Thursday.

An adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that Russian authorities would consider dumping more than $200 billion of US government bonds in response to possible US sanctions against Russian companies and individuals.

Following Thursday’s announcement by the Crimean parliament that it intended to secede and request annexation by Russia, US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki confirmed that blacklists of persons who will be denied US entry have already been compiled and said they included “Russians and Ukrainians”.

“The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law,” Obama said. “Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine.”


Source: Agencies