- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2014

President Obama called Russian ruler Vladimir Putin Saturday afternoon and expressed “deep concern” over Russia’s move in Ukraine.

The White House called Russia’s recent aggression a “clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity” and a breach of international law.

The White House said the U.S. is suspending preparations for the upcoming Group of Eight summit in June in Sochi, Russia, in response to Russia’s actions.

“President Obama made clear that Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would negatively impact Russia’s standing in the international community,” the White House said.

Mr. Obama spoke with the Russian leader for 90 minutes. The White House said the U.S. condemns Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory.

An administration official said the United States will “urgently consult” with allies and partners in the UN Security Council, the North Atlantic Council, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the coming hours and days.
“The United States calls on Russia to de-escalate tensions by withdrawing its forces back to bases in Crimea and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine,” the White House said.

Mr. Obama told Mr. Putin that if Russia has concerns about the treatment of ethnic Russian and minority populations in Ukraine, the appropriate way to address them is “peacefully through direct engagement with the government of Ukraine” and through other international observers.

“President Obama urged an immediate effort to initiate a dialogue between Russia and the Ukrainian government, with international facilitation, as appropriate,” the White House said.

Mr. Obama also spoke separately Saturday with French President Francois Hollande and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper about the crisis.

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