Washington: US President Barack Obama on Thursday expressed hope that the crisis in Ukraine would de-escalate in coming weeks as he continues to mobilise the international community to condemn the Russian military action in Kiev.
Obama`s remarks to the press came hours after he signed an executive order that authorises sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine or for stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people.
"The State Department has also put in place restrictions on the travel of certain individuals and officials. These decisions continue our efforts to impose a cost on Russia and those responsible for the situation in Crimea. And they also give us the flexibility to adjust our response going forward based on Russia`s actions," Obama said.
In his remarks, Obama exuded confidence that the US and its international partners are moving forward together, united in their determination to oppose actions that violate international law and to support the government and people of Ukraine, and that includes standing up for the principle of state sovereignty.
The President said, "The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law. Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.
"While we take these steps, I want to be clear that there is also a way to resolve this crisis that respects the interests of the Russian Federation as well as the Ukrainian people."
Let international monitors into all of Ukraine, including Crimea, to ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are being respected, including ethnic Russians; begin consultations between the government of Russia and Ukraine, with the participation of the international community, he added.
"Russia would maintain its basing rights in Crimea, provided that it abides by its agreements and respects Ukraine`s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The world should support the people of Ukraine as they move to elections in May," Obama said.
"That`s the path of de-escalation. Secretary (of State John) Kerry is engaged in discussions with all of the relevant parties, including Russia and Ukraine, to pursue that path. But if this violation of international law continues, the resolve of the United States and our allies and the international community will remain firm," Obama said.
"Meanwhile, we`ve taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to the security and democracy of our allies in Eastern Europe, and to support the people of Ukraine," he said.
The President said, "Today, the world can see that the United States is united with our allies and partners in upholding international law and pursuing a just outcome that advances global security and the future that the Ukrainian people deserve. That`s what we`re going to continue to do in the days to come until we have seen a resolution to this crisis."