Obama Delivers a Powerful Warning To Russia To Stay Out of Ukraine

Obama Delivers a Powerful Warning To Russia To Stay Out of Ukraine

obama-ukraine

President Obama issued a strong warning to Vladimir Putin today that any military intervention in Ukraine will come at a cost.

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Transcript:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Over the last several days, the United States has been responding to events as they unfold in Ukraine. Throughout this crisis, we have been very clear about one fundamental principle: The Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future. Together with our European allies, we have urged an end to the violence and encouraged Ukrainians to pursue a course in which they stabilize their country, forge a broad-based government and move to elections this spring.

I also spoke several days ago with President Putin, and my administration has been in daily communication with Russian officials, and we’ve made clear that they can be part of an international community’s effort to support the stability and success of a united Ukraine going forward, which is not only in the interest of The people of Ukraine and the international community, but also in Russia’s interest.

However, we are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine. Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe.

It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people. It would be a clear violence of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws. And just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, it would invite the condemnation of nations around the world. And indeed, the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.

The events of the past several months remind us of how difficult democracy can be in a country with deep divisions. But the Ukrainian people have also reminded us that human beings have a universal right to determine their own future.

There is no doubt that the international community will not stand by and let Russia defy the will of the Ukrainian people, and restore Yanukovich back to power.

Putin already views the conflict in Cold War terms. He is trying to keep Europe out of what he views as his backyard. President Obama’s statement was significant because it demonstrated that the United States is not going to look the other way while Putin crushes what he must view as a rebellion in “his territory.”

To anyone who grew up in the Cold War era, what is happening in the Ukraine has a very familiar ring to it. It would be morally wrong, and an epic foreign policy blunder if the United States was not supporting the will of the majority in Ukraine right now.

The practical problem is that Ukraine remains divided. A sizable segment of the country wants to hitch their economic wagons to Russia, while the rest of the country wants to economically align with Europe. It is a conflict with no simple solution. In this context, the president is hitting the right notes by balancing between caution and a defense of democratic
values.

The media will try to sell this story as a test of President Obama’s leadership, but it much more than that. It is a test of our values. One of the reasons that President Obama was elected was because he represented a return to foreign policy normalcy after the make it up as they went along Bush years. President Obama must continue to represent the kind of foreign policy that most war fatigued Americans want to have.

Putin is trying to crush the self-determination of the Ukrainian people, and with his remarks today, President Obama let it be known that the United States and the world won’t stand idly by and let that happen.

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