United States President Barack Obama has said that Russia's actions are in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and suggested that there is a diplomatic solution that would protect the interest of both Russia and Ukraine and end the worst East-West stand-off since the Cold War.
Obama spoke for an hour Thursday afternoon with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and told him that "there is a way to resolve the situation diplomatically, which addresses the interests of Russia, the people of Ukraine, and the international community", the White House said in a statement.
This was the second telephonic conversation between the two leaders in less than a week. It came hours after Obama slapped sanctions and placed restrictions on individuals supporting the Russian incursion and activities undermining democratic processes in crisis-hit Ukraine.
The new restrictions were announced as the US began stepping up pressure on Moscow after Russian forces reportedly took control of Crimea, an autonomous peninsula within Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority.
“As a part of that resolution, the governments of Ukraine and Russia would hold direct talks, facilitated by the international community; international monitors could ensure that the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians; Russian forces would return to their bases; and the international community would work together to support the Ukrainian people as they prepare for elections in May," the White House said.
Obama indicated that Secretary of State John Kerry would continue discussions with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Ukraine and other international partners in the days to come to advance those objectives, it said.
Earlier, the White House had said the US is pursuing and reviewing a wide range of options in response to Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity -- actions that constitute a threat to peace and security and a breach of international law.
Image: US President Barack Obama with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G8 Summit at Lough Erne in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters