Barack Obama warns Vladimir Putin of 'costs' for intervention in Ukraine

Relations between Washington and Moscow already strained

US Editor

President Barack Obama delivered a blunt warning to President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Friday night that “there will be costs” were he to send military forces across the international border into the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine and attempt to intervene directly in the political crisis that continues to convulse the country.

“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,” Mr Obama said making a late afternoon statement in the White House press room in Washington. “Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilising.”

Hours before, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations Yuriy A. Sergeyev, told the Security Council in New York that what Washington feared was indeed already happening.  He asserted that Russian troops had taken control of two airports in Crimea and that the Russian Navy was blocking the Ukrainian Coast Guard.

After that meeting, the US top envoy to the UN Samantha Power delivered a similarly plain-spoken message to Moscow. “The United States calls upon Russia to pull back the military forces that are being built up in the region, to stand down and to allow the Ukrainian people the opportunity to pursue their own government, create their own destiny, and to do so freely without intimidation or fear,” she said, speaking shortly before Mr Obama.

The statements reflecting deepening anxiety in Washington over Russia’s possible intentions as the new interim government attempts in Kiev to exert authority at the same time as pro-Russian sentiments flare on the Crimean peninsula. Relations between Washington and Moscow have already been strained for months suggesting that any direct confrontation between the two over Ukraine and its future integrity might be very difficult to handle.

As he left the White House to attend a Democrat Party fundraising event in a nearby hotel, Mr Obama was met by a heckler. “Tell us about your plan for nuclear war with Russia!” he shouted. “What the heck are you talking about?” Mr Obama replied. “I don’t know anything about that plan. I don’t know what you’ve been reading.”

Read more: Ukraine vows to fight after Russia says yes to invasion
Moscow catches the world off guard
How far will president Putin go to keep his hands on Crimea?
Comment: No wonder Putin says Crimea is Russian
Cameron warns that ‘the world is watching’
Election monitors will be under extreme pressure
Editorial: We don’t want a war with Russia

Mr Obama suggested channels of communication with Russia were open noting he had spoken by telephone with Mr Putin for an hour last week about the Ukraine.  Yet trust between them is clearly low.  Intervention, military or political intervention, he said, would “invite the condemnation of nations around the world, and the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs from any violation.”

It isn’t clear what Mr Obama has in mind for the “costs” that Russia might pay if it ignores America’s admonitions.  Officials indicated that they could include a boycott by the US president of a planned G8 summit set for Sochi this June and a suspension of trade talks with Moscow.  No one could say whether they thought the Kremlin would worry much about such threats.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£13676.46 - £15864.28 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Re...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf