The United States has steadfastly supported the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine since it declared its independence in 1991. In a statement released on March 16, 2014, the White House Press Secretary said:
"...We reject the 'referendum' that took place today in the Crimean region of Ukraine. This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law.
"No decisions should be made about the future of Ukraine without the Ukrainian government. Moreover, this vote was not necessary. The Ukrainian government has made clear its willingness to discuss increased autonomy for Crimea, and the presidential elections planned for May 25 provide a legitimate opportunity for all Ukrainians to make their voices heard on the future of their country."
This afternoon, President Barack Obama spoke with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. President Obama emphasized that the Crimean "referendum" would never be recognized by the United States and the international community. He emphasized that Russia’s actions were in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that, in coordination with our European partners, we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions.
President Obama underscored that there remains a clear path for resolving this crisis diplomatically, in a way that addresses the interests of both Russia and the people of Ukraine. He noted that the Ukrainian government continues to take concrete steps that would allow for the de-escalation of the crisis, particularly as it prepares for elections this Spring and undertakes constitutional reform, and he asked that Russia support the immediate deployment of international monitors to help prevent acts of violence by any groups. President Obama reiterated that a diplomatic resolution cannot be achieved while Russian military forces continue their incursions into Ukrainian territory and that the large-scale Russian military exercises on Ukraine’s borders only exacerbate the tension. President Obama said that Secretary Kerry continues to be prepared to work together with Foreign Minister Lavrov and the Ukrainian government to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.
During a phone call with Foreign Minister Lavrov this morning, Secretary Kerry reaffirmed that the United States considers the ongoing referendum illegal under Ukrainian law and restated that the United States will not recognize the outcome. He raised strong concerns about the Russian military activities in Kherson oblast yesterday and about the continuing provocations in eastern cities in Ukraine. Secretary Kerry also called the Foreign Minister's attention to actions taken by the government of Ukraine to arrest those responsible for violence in Kharkiv and steps taken to implement the demobilization and disarmament of irregular forces.
Further to discussions that the United States has had with Russia, our European partners and the government of Ukraine, Secretary Kerry also drew attention to the broad multi-party constitutional reform process already underway in the Ukrainian Rada. He urged Russia to support efforts by Ukrainians across the spectrum to address power sharing and decentralization through a constitutional reform process that is broadly inclusive and protects the rights of minorities. The Secretary made clear that this crisis can only be resolved politically and that as Ukrainians take the necessary political measures going forward, Russia must reciprocate by pulling forces back to base, and addressing the tensions and concerns about military engagement.
"As the United States and our allies have made clear, military intervention and violation of international law will bring increasing costs for Russia -- not only due to measures imposed by the United States and our allies but also as a direct result of Russia’s own destabilizing actions," the White House Press Secretary said.
"In this century, we are long past the days when the international community will stand quietly by while one country forcibly seizes the territory of another. We call on all members of the international community to continue to condemn such actions, to take concrete steps to impose costs, and to stand together in support of the Ukrainian people and Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty."
For more information:
- Statement by the White House Press Secretary on Ukraine
- Readout of President Obama's Call With Russian President Putin
- Readout of Secretary Kerry's Call With Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov
- UN Security Council Votes on Resolution on Ukraine
- President Obama, Secretary Kerry Meet With Prime Minister Yatsenyuk of Ukraine