February 28th, 2014
05:10 PM ET
8 months ago

Obama on Ukraine: The U.S. is 'deeply concerned'

(CNN) - The United States is "deeply concerned" by reports of Russian military movements inside Ukraine, President Barack Obama said Friday, saying any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty would be "deeply destabilizing."

Obama said that the situation in Ukraine was "very fluid" and that the United States would continue to coordinate closely with European allies and communicate directly with the Russian government.

"The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine," he said.

Here's a transcript of his remarks:

Good afternoon, everybody.

Over the last several days, the United States has been responding to events as they unfold in Ukraine. Throughout this crisis, we have been very clear about one fundamental principle: The Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future. Together with our European allies, we have urged an end to the violence and encouraged Ukrainians to pursue a course in which they stabilize their country, forge a broad-based government and move to elections this spring.

I also spoke several days ago with President Putin, and my administration has been in daily communication with Russian officials, and we've made clear that they can be part of an international community’s effort to support the stability and success of a united Ukraine going forward, which is not only in the interest of The people of Ukraine and the international community, but also in Russia’s interest.

However, we are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine. Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe.

*It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people. It would be a clear violence [violation]of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws. And just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, it would invite the condemnation of nations around the world. And indeed, the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.

The events of the past several months remind us of how difficult democracy can be in a country with deep divisions. But the Ukrainian people have also reminded us that human beings have a universal right to determine their own future.

Right now, the situation remains very fluid. Vice President Biden just spoke with Prime Minister - the Prime Minister of Ukraine to assure him that in this difficult moment the United States supports his government’s efforts and stands for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic future of Ukraine. I also commend the Ukrainian government’s restraint and its commitment to uphold its international obligations.

We will continue to coordinate closely with our European allies. We will continue to communicate directly with the Russian government. And we will continue to keep all of you in the press corps and the American people informed as events develop.

Thanks very much.


Filed under: President Obama • Russia
soundoff (476 Responses)
  1. Jean

    Too funny – my guess is Russia could care less what Obama has to say. If Russia does invade Ukraine what will Obama do about it? In my opinion, based on his history, nothing. In 5 years Obama has managed to cheapen and degrade the US position and reputation to almost nothing. Many think the US, under Obama, is weak at best.

    February 28, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. www.kazurisana.com

    While all countries should be concerned about the safety and well-being of Ukraine's civilians, no one country has a right to send its troops, mercenaries, or otherwise, to take over major installations., or try to curve a a region off Ukraine (does Putin want to curve Crimea off Ukraine?)

    President Obama is right, an international effort is more in line than solitary opportunistic ventures. Russia needs to pull out and if she sees a need to step in, then get the UN to authorize it.

    February 28, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. someoneelse

    OK, I just watched Obama put his misguided two cents in at his news conference. Don't we have smarter people available to advise us on situations like this?

    Instead of thinking we are the world's savior and police, why are we not asking Russia what they want to do in their backyard and offer to help them and stand behind them. Russia should be our ally and not an adversary.

    February 28, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. Name fernando wadskier

    Mr Obama why you are not concern about military movements of Cuba in Venezua

    February 28, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. Mike

    That deeply says nothing whatsover

    February 28, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. American

    Putin is shaking in his boots. Lol.
    Obama has made America weak. Not lol.

    February 28, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. Steve851

    That was perhaps the most useless presser Obama has ever had. He said nothing

    February 28, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. LibrulOne

    Stern language but even keeled. What matters more is what is going on behind the scenes.

    February 28, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. rapierpoint

    I thought Kerry said just the other day "Nothing to worry about".

    February 28, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. Mart

    Do we really want war with the Russians?

    February 28, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. cmml

    He had to interrupt my soap operas to tell us that? He could have said that in a press release.

    February 28, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. Eric

    He also said "It is the job of a leader to make bold statements and rile up the public without actually acting on any of those beliefs, managing to annoy both sides."

    February 28, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  13. Yaka Fear

    This is the same pattern of escalation that happened over Georgia, and will have the exact same outcome – we'll tell Russia not to or we'll say no really loud. Putin will get what he wants and will eventually agree to international peacekeeping once he's achieved his goals. Hopefully the new Ukrainian government won't take the bait.

    February 28, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. The Hamster

    Deeply concerned????
    He has to.. They are favoring the wrong crwod. In the vaccuum made by the protesters the ultra right wing groups are taking control of the new government. All with the sponsorship of both the EU and the USA.
    Same thing happened when they favored the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
    The US has to simply stay out of the problems between the ukranians and the russians.

    February 28, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. bob

    The part of the Ukraine that wants to be a part of Russia should do so and the other parts should go with the West. Why fight about it?

    February 28, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. larsfox

    Believe me, if I were Putin and wanted to go into the Ukraine, I couldn't wish for a better leader of the United States to be in charge than Obama. Obama will huff, and he'll puff, and... he'll struggle to get an international agreement that Russia has been naughty. So long, mighty US of A, hello mediocrity.

    February 28, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. joe

    Oh god no, Obama's concerned! Putin better stop right now or else...

    February 28, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. Tasuja

    At this time of historic crisis with Russia, our nation desperately needs a strong leader in the White House. Unfortunately, we have only a Chicago street organizer masquerading as a "president" of our nation. I have predicted all along that Barak Hussein Obama will duck and hide as soon as a real crisis arises for our nation. And, this is exactly what he did at today's speech: he suddenly ducked his head and ran off the podium.

    Vladimir Putin vowed a few weeks ago that he will go to war to protect Russian interests in Ukraine, and this is what he is prepared to do.

    February 28, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. Me

    I am not concerned. I know that all Barry has is his mouth.

    February 28, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  20. jkren

    Saber Rattling!

    February 28, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  21. Fish

    The President should be concerned as a second Crimean war would be devastating to the world. Perhaps he should accelerate our withdraw from Afghanistan in preparation for possible fallouts. This is exactly why we must stop dithering with Karsai as he has put America at risk with his indecision and inability to control is own country!!!

    February 28, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. The Hamster

    Deeply concerned????
    He has to.. They are favoring the wrong crowd. In the vaccuum made by the protests the ultra right wing groups are taking control of the new government. All with the sponsorship of both the EU and the USA.
    Same thing happened when they favored the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
    The US has to simply stay out of the problems between the ukranians and the russians.

    February 28, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  23. DougNJ

    Almost time to "Duck & Cover".

    February 28, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  24. toesml

    Ya, Putin is shaking in his boots. Your record of doing nothing over and over speaks for itself, Obama the man of "words", no action and never any productive results. !

    February 28, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  25. Ken Margo

    Before the brain dead start chirping about the president being weak. What would you do? Let me guess, You'd send in the troops! Great. Send someone else's kid in to fight while you stay home nice, warm and safe!

    February 28, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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