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The President spoke today with the President of the Government of Spain Mariano Rajoy about Ukraine. The President welcomed the strong, unified stance of the United States and the European Union regarding Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, including in the conclusions of the March 6 European Council. The leaders reiterated their grave concern over Russia’s clear violation of international law and reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.The leaders also welcomed the restraint shown by the Ukrainian government in responding to Russian violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and agreed upon the need for direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate the situation and restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The leaders rejected the proposed referendum in Crimea as a violation of Ukraine’s constitution and underscored that all decisions about the future of Ukraine must include the government in Kyiv. They agreed to continue close coordination, including through appropriate international organizations.
The President spoke today with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan to discuss Ukraine. The two leaders affirmed their shared interest in identifying a peaceful resolution to the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. They agreed on the importance of upholding principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The President noted U.S. commitment to the principle that the Ukrainian people be able to decide their future without fear of foreign interference. The President also encouraged Kazakhstan to play an active role in finding a peaceful outcome for Ukraine.
"The forces controlling the Crimea are responsible for the fate of these journalists," Christophe Deloire, secretary general for the press freedom watchdog, said in a statement.Tension in the Black Sea peninsula has been growing since pro-Russian separatists took control of the regional parliament, declaring Crimea part of the Russian Federation and announcing a referendum for March 16 to confirm this.In little more than a week, Russian forces have taken over military installations across Crimea, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Unidentified men fired in the air on Monday as they moved into a Ukrainian naval post."We are alarmed by the steady escalation in violations of journalists' rights in Crimea, which is turning into a lawless region controlled by armed bands whose anonymity reinforces the impunity," Deloire said."The frequency of deliberate attacks on journalists and the scale of the censorship suggest a desire to turn the region into a black hole for news and information.
Is Crimea really worth it?
Between balancing Crimea’s budget and fulfilling its pension obligations, Ukraine shells out $1.1 billion a year to prop up its southern peninsula. And that’s not including the $3 billion investment Crimea needs to repair its crumbling infrastructure. This is all for a region with a gross product of around $4 billion—just 0.2 percent the size of Russia’s $2 trillion economy.
Does Gazprom need Ukraine more than Ukraine needs Gazprom?
On March 4, the head of Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled natural gas monopoly, announced that it would no longer sell to Ukraine at a discount, because Russia’s southwestern neighbor had “violated its agreements.” But, over the past five years, as Ukraine has updated or closed down many of its creaky factories and mining operations, its natural gas consumption has fallen by nearly 40 percent and its gas imports from Russia have dropped by half. In the meantime, with competition from inside Russian and out, Gazprom is struggling to hold onto its market share.
In their conversation on Saturday, Secretary Kerry made clear to Foreign Minister Lavrov that the United States wants to see a cessation of Russian military advances in Ukraine including Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, a halt in the drive for annexation of Crimea, and the end of provocative steps to provide space for diplomacy
The United States needs to see concrete evidence that Russia is prepared to engage on the diplomatic proposals we have made to facilitate direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia and to use international mechanisms like a contact group to deescalate the conflict.
We are still awaiting a Russian response to the concrete questions that Secretary Kerry sent Foreign Minister Lavrov on Saturday in this regard.
Secretary Kerry made clear to Foreign Minister Lavrov that he would welcome further discussions focused on how to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine if and when we see concrete evidence that Russia is prepared to engage on these proposals.
I am increasingly alarmed by the developments in Ukraine. Since the beginning of this crisis, I have appealed to all parties to de-escalate tensions and to engage in direct and constructive dialogue in order to forge a peaceful way forward.
Recent events in Crimea in particular have only served to deepen the crisis. As tensions and mistrust are growing, I urge all sides to refrain from hasty actions and provocative rhetoric.
The international community must help the key actors to calm the situation and work toward a durable and fair political solution. A further deterioration of the situation would have serious repercussions for the people of Ukraine, the region and the global community.
I also continue to urge the relevant authorities to ensure that the human rights of all in Ukraine are respected, with particular attention to the rights and protection of minorities.
At this crucial juncture, we cannot afford either miscalculations or inaction. Above all, a resolution of the crisis must be found on the basis of United Nations Charter principles, including the peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.