Vice President Joseph R. Biden urged a top Russian official Monday to withdraw troops from Ukraine, even as Russia defended its use of military force in the Crimean Peninsula.
Mr. Biden spoke by phone with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on the escalating crisis.
"The vice president urged Russia to pull back its forces, support the immediate deployment of international monitors to Ukraine, and begin a meaningful political dialogue with the Ukrainian government," the White House said in a brief statement.
On Saturday, President Obama spoke by phone for 90 minutes with Russian President Vladimir Putin, apparently to no avail.
Russia on Monday rejected accusations that it is acting aggressively toward Ukraine, telling Western critics to put aside "geopolitical calculations" and respond instead with concern for citizens there.
"This is a matter of defending our citizens and our compatriots, of defending the most important human right — the right to life," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a U.N. human rights meeting in Geneva. "We call for a responsible approach, to put aside geopolitical calculations, and above all to put the interests of the Ukrainian people first."
Mr. Lavrov accused Ukraine's new authorities, who replaced ousted President Viktor Yanukovych last week, of attacking minorities and violating human rights.
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