Obama meets with Ukraine prime minister Wednesday; Biden cuts short Latin America trip | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Obama meets with Ukraine prime minister Wednesday; Biden cuts short Latin America trip

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama step off Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base after spending the weekend in Key Largo, Fla., on Sunday, March 9, 2014, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will meet this week with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the White House said, in a prominent show of U.S. support for Ukraine's fledgling new government.

Vice-President Joe Biden cut short his trip to Latin America, cancelling a planned stop in the Dominican Republic so he can attend Wednesday's meeting, an aide to Biden said Sunday. Biden had been the White House's prime point of contact with Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovich, before he fled to Russia last month following violent clashes in the capital, Kyiv.

Obama's White House meeting with Yatsenyuk will focus on options to peacefully resolve Russia's military invention in the Ukrainian region of Crimea, the White House said, adding that the resolution must respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

By inviting Yatsenyuk, whose government Russian President Vladimir Putin alleged took power by way of an unconstitutional coup, the U.S. is also sending a clear signal to Moscow that the U.S. considers Yatsenyuk to be Ukraine's legitimate leader — at least for the time being.

"What we've seen is the president mobilizing the international community in support of Ukraine to isolate Russia for its actions in Ukraine, and to reassure our allies and partners," said Tony Blinken, Obama's deputy national security adviser, as he announced the meeting Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The announcement came as the Kremlin was strengthening its military presence in Crimea ahead of a planned March 16 referendum on whether Crimea should break away from Ukraine and join Russia. Putin defended the separatist drive as in keeping with international law, but Yatsenyuk vowed not to relinquish "a single centimetre" of his country's territory. Obama has warned that the vote would violate international law.

Vacationing with his family over the weekend in Florida, Obama on Saturday spoke individually with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and French President Francois Hollande, and collectively with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The three Baltic nations are former Soviet republics and now are NATO members. Both Latvia and Estonia have sizable ethnic Russian minorities.


Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Key Largo, Florida, contributed to this report.

News from © The Associated Press, 2014
The Associated Press

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