The Times West Virginian

Headline News

March 29, 2014

Obama to Putin: Pull back from Ukraine border

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Worried about Moscow’s intentions, President Barack Obama urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull his troops back from the border with Ukraine during an hourlong phone call Friday. The Russian leader, who initiated the call, asserted that Ukraine’s government is allowing extremists to intimidate civilians with impunity.

The White House and the Kremlin offered starkly different summaries of the call, which occurred  while Obama was traveling in Saudi Arabia. The contrasting interpretations underscored the chasm between how Moscow and Washington perceive the escalating international standoff sparked by Russia’s annexation of Crimea away from Ukraine.

White House officials described the call as “frank and direct” and said Obama had urged Putin to offer a written response to a diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine crisis that the U.S. has presented. Obama told the Russian leader that Ukraine’s government is pursuing de-escalation despite Russia’s incursion into Crimea, urging Putin to support that effort. He urged Moscow to scale back its troop build-up on the border with Ukraine, which has prompted concerns in Kiev and Washington about a possible Russian invasion in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin, on the other hand, said Putin had drawn Obama’s attention to a “rampage of extremists” in Ukraine and suggested “possible steps by the international community to help stabilize the situation” in Ukraine.

In a statement, the Kremlin said Putin also pointed at an “effective blockade” of Moldova’s separatist region of Trans-Dniester, where Russia has troops. Russia and the local authorities have complained of Ukraine’s recent moves to limit travel across the border of the region on Ukraine’s southern border. There were fears in Ukraine that Russia could use its forces in Trans-Dniester to invade.

Both nations said Secretary of State John Kerry planned to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss further steps. That meeting could come as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday, when Kerry is scheduled to be in Brussels for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

Obama, in a CBS News interview aired Friday but recorded before the call, said Russia is amassing troops along the Ukrainian border “under the guise of military exercises.”

“It may simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that they’ve got additional plans,” Obama said. “And in either case, what we need right now to resolve and de-escalate the situation would be for Russia to move back those troops and to begin negotiations directly with the Ukrainian government, as well as the international community.”

Putin’s unexpected outreach to Obama came the same day that former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych pushed for a vote to determine the status of each of the country’s regions — a call serving the Kremlin’s purpose of turning Ukraine into a loosely knit federation and raising the threat of more unrest in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern provinces. The fugitive leader fled to Russia last month after three months of protests in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defense minister said the Ukrainian military withdrawal from Crimea was complete — another sign that U.S. efforts to dissuade Russia from absorbing the peninsula have thus far been unsuccessful.

In follow-up discussions between Kerry and Lavrov, the U.S. will seek to determine whether the Russians are serious about pursuing diplomacy, said a White House official, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said Obama and Putin discussed the latest draft of a document that Kerry and Lavrov have been working on to lay out ways to de-escalate the conflict.

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Batman creator’s personal copies to be auctioned

    Batman creator Bob Kane’s own copies of the Caped Crusader’s earliest appearances are going up for auction.

    August 1, 2014

  • U.S. employers add 209,000 jobs; unemployment rate rises to 6.2 percent

    U.S. employers extended their solid hiring into July by adding 209,000 jobs. It was the sixth straight month of job growth above 200,000, evidence that businesses are gradually shedding the caution that had marked the 5-year-old recovery.

    August 1, 2014

  • Congress OKs VA, highway bills, not border measure

    Congress ran full-tilt into election-year gridlock over immigration Thursday and staggered toward a five-week summer break after failing to agree on legislation to cope with the influx of young immigrants flocking illegally to the United States.

    August 1, 2014

  • U.S. warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

    U.S. health officials on Thursday warned Americans not to travel to the three West African countries hit by an outbreak of Ebola.
    The travel advisory applies to nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the deadly disease has killed more than 700 people this year.

    August 1, 2014

  • As job market strengthens, many don’t feel it

    For millions of workers, happy days aren’t quite here again.
    Though the U.S. unemployment rate has plunged since the start of last year to a five-year low of 6.1 percent, the Gallup Organization has found that consumers’ view of the economy is the glummest it’s been in seven months.

    August 1, 2014

  • State Dept.: ‘No American is proud’ of CIA tactics

    The State Department has endorsed the broad conclusions of a harshly critical Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices after the 9/11 attacks, a report that accuses the agency of brutally treating terror suspects and misleading Congress, according to a White House document.

    August 1, 2014

  • West Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    The worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 deaths in West Africa as the World Health Organization on Thursday announced dozens of new fatalities.

    July 31, 2014

  • Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

    A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Obama and other Democrats derided the effort as a stunt aimed at tossing political red meat to conservative voters.

    July 31, 2014

  • Obama takes tougher line against casualties in Gaza

    The Obama administration condemned the deadly shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza Wednesday, using tough, yet carefully worded language that reflects growing White House irritation with Israel and the mounting civilian casualties stemming from its ground and air war against Hamas.

    July 31, 2014

  • House approves VA overhaul

    The House overwhelmingly approved a landmark bill Wednesday to help veterans avoid long waits for health care that have plagued the Veterans Affairs Department for years.
    The $16.3 billion measure also would allow the VA to hire thousands of doctors and nurses and rewrite employment rules to make it easier to fire senior executives judged to be negligent or performing poorly.

    July 31, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads