In lengthy phone call, Obama and Putin trade words on Ukraine crisis

Ukrainian activists gather outside the White House on March 1, 2014 in Washington. Protesters gathered to rally against foreign involvement in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian activists gathered outside the White House on March 1. In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, President Barack Obama expressed concern over Russian intervention in Ukraine. Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone on Saturday about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, according to separate statements from the White House and the Kremlin

During the 90-minute call, Obama condemned Russia’s use of military intervention in Ukraine.

From the White House:

President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and which is inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act. The United States condemns Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory.

A statement from the Kremlin said Russia reserved the right to protect its interests in the face of “the provocative and criminal actions on the part of ultranationalists.”

“Vladimir Putin stressed that in case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas,” the statement said.

The White House also said it would suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8.

The United States will suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8.

— @NSCPress (@NSCPress) March 1, 2014

Despite objections from Russia, the U.N. Security Council held an open meeting on Saturday

According to the Associated Press, Ukraine had reached out to the Security Council permanent members to help stop Russia’s “aggression.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke with Putin on Saturday, expressed his concern about the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

“I am gravely concerned by some of the recent events in particular those that could in any way compromise the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country,” he said in a statement. “It is crucial to restore calm and proceed to an immediate de-escalation of the situation.”

Russian forces tightened the country’s control over the region of Crimea on Saturday.

Putin has reportedly put Russian troops on high alert.

Arseny Yatseniuk, Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister, said if Russia used military forces it “would be the beginning of war and the end of any relations between Ukraine and Russia.”

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