Obama Condemns Kiev Violence And Warns Ukraine’s Government There Will Be Consequences

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President Obama is warning the Ukrainian government that he is holding them responsible, and if they use violence against the protestors, there will be consequences.

The president said, “The United States condemns in the strongest terms the violence that’s taking place. And we have been deeply engaged with our European partners as well as the Ukrainian government and the opposition to try to ensure that that violence ends. But we hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protestors in an appropriate way, that the Ukrainian people are able to assemble and speak freely about their interests without fear of repression. And I want to be very clear as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we’re going to be watching closely, and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protestors. We’ve also said we expect peaceful protestors to remain peaceful, and we’ll be monitoring very closely the situation, recognizing that with our European partners and the international community there will be consequences if people step over the line. And that includes making sure the Ukrainian military does not step into what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians. So the United States will continue to engage with all sides in the dispute in Ukraine and ultimately our interest is to make sure the Ukrainian people can express their own desires and we believe a large majority of Ukrainians are interested in an integration with Europe and the commerce and cultural exchanges that are possible for them to expand opportunity and prosperity. But regardless of how the Ukrainian people determine their own future it is important the people themselves make those decisions and that’s what the United States will continue to strive to achieve.”

At the heart of the violence in the Ukraine is a fundamental dispute about the future direction of the country. The conflict started because many Ukrainians want to join the European Union. The situation has been escalating in the months since President Viktor Yanukovych reversed course on a deal with the EU, and accepted a $15 billion bailout from Russia. The situation turned violent after the government responded to protests by passing an anti-protest law. Twenty five people have died in the violence, and more than 240 more have been injured. The president responded by calling the protests acts of terror, and promised a crackdown that will restore order.

Ukraine is divided. The eastern part of the country wants to align with Russia. The west wants a relationship with the EU. In the center are a corrupt president and his administration that are using the government for their own personal enrichment. The situation in the Ukraine is beyond messy. It is a fundamental conflict that could permanently split the country, with a president who is more interested in keeping his wealth and power than doing what’s right for the people.

President Obama and the West have made it clear that their sympathies reside with the protestors. Republicans who think that President Obama is a dictator need to take a long look at what is happening in Ukraine. If Yanukovych continues to move towards using violence against his own people, sanctions will be coming. In reality, all the West can do is hope that the pressure that they are applying prevents a full scale war.

Once again, President Obama has stood up for the values of liberty and self determination that all Americans hold dear.

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