The proposal was developed following US consultations with Ukrainian and European partners. Secretary Kerry had again presented the proposal to Foreign Minister Lavrov at the meeting at the Hague earlier this week.
During the phone call, President Obama suggested that Russia put a concrete response in writing and the presidents agreed that Kerry and Lavrov would meet to discuss next steps.
"President Obama noted that the Ukrainian government continues to take a restrained and de-escalatory approach to the crisis and is moving ahead with constitutional reform and democratic elections, and urged Russia to support this process and avoid further provocations, including the buildup of forces on its border with Ukraine.
"President Obama underscored to President Putin that the United States continues to support a diplomatic path in close consultation with the Government of Ukraine and in support of the Ukrainian people with the aim of de-escalation of the crisis. President Obama made clear that this remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. President Obama reiterated that the United States has strongly opposed the actions that Russia has already taken to violate Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the White House reported.
Throughout his trip abroad, President Obama has exerted pressure on Russia, making it clear that the US and its allies are prepared to inflict sanctions on key sectors of Russia's economy, including oil and gas, financial services, metals and mining, defense and related material, and engineering sectors.
Perhaps what hit home with Putin, though, were President Obama's remarks during a press conference at the Hague, March 25: "Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors not out of strength, but out of weakness. Ukraine has been a country in which Russia had enormous influence for decades, since the breakup of the Soviet Union. And we have considerable influence on our neighbors. We generally don’t need to invade them in order to have a strong, cooperative relationship with them. The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more.
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
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