Ukraine crisis: Obama warns Russia 'must pull back troops' from the Ukraine border

Ousted President Viktor Yanukovych calls for a nationwide referendum on Ukraine's status

President Barack Obama has stepped up the rhetoric against Russian intervention in Ukraine calling on Moscow to "pull back its troops" immediately.

Mr Obama urged Moscow to reduce the number of Russian troops deployed on the Ukrainian border and acknowledged that, while it may be "an effort to intimidate" Kiev, Russia may also have "additional plans" in the region.

"You've seen a range of troops massing along that border under the guise of military exercises," he told  CBS This Morning.

"But these are not what Russia would normally be doing, and it may be simply be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that they've got additional plans."

He added: "In either case, what we need right to resolve and de-escalate tensions is for Russia to move back those troops and begin negotiations."

Mr Obama said President Vladimir Putin had shown a "deeply-held grievance about what he considers to be the loss of the Soviet Union", but warned against actions that could "revert back" to the Cold War.

He said: "There's a strong sense of Russian nationalism and a sense that somehow the West has taken advantage of Russia in the past.

"What I have repeatedly said is that he may be entirely misreading the West. He's certainly misreading American foreign policy."

Meanwhile ousted president Viktor Yanukovych has called for a nationwide referendum to determine the "status of every region in Ukraine" in his first public statement in over two weeks following the annexation of Crimea.

"As president who is with you in thought and soul, I ask every single sensible citizen of Ukraine not to let yourselves be used by the imposters! Demand a referendum on determining the status of every region in Ukraine," Yanukovych said in a statement quoted by Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency.

Russia entered the Crimean peninsula on the grounds that it has an "obligation" to protect the rights of Russian-speakers in the region.

The West has expressed concern that Russia could use the same pretext to expand its military presence in Ukraine, and ultimately take over eastern Ukraine.

Earlier this week, the Russian government opened a telephone hotline for Russians in Ukraine wishing to "complain about violations of their linguistic, cultural and religious" rights.

His call for a nationwide referendum comes as Ukraine's interim president Olexander Turchynov warned ultra-nationalist groups against further "destabilisation" after supporters of the Right Sector smashed windows and blocked the entrance to the parliament building on Thursday.

Speaking at a parliamentary session, Mr Turchynov said the Right Sector threatens to "destabilise the situation in Ukraine, in the very heart of Ukraine"- referring to the capital of Kiev- following the death of ultra-nationalist leader Oleksandr Muzychko.

Mr Muzychko, also known as Sashko Billy, was shot dead by police in a cafe in Rivne in western Ukraine. Supporters claim he was executed by the government despite playing a prominent role in the protests that led to the ousting of former president Viktor Yanukovych in February.

Adding to further turmoil, the Ukrainian government has warned the country is teetering "on the brink of economic and financial bankruptcy" and signalled more pain ahead after securing a $14-18 billion rescue package with the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Yatsenyuk said new structural reforms, including raising taxes and a freeze on minimum wage, will hit families hard but insisted the government had "no choice but the tell the truth".

In a statement, the IMF warned the country is facing "difficult" challenges following the "intense economic and political turbulence of recent months".

On Wednesday, Ukraine announced a radical 50 per cent increase in domestic gas prices starting 1 May in an effort to secure the IMF bailout, which made scrapping energy subsidies a key condition for the deal to move forward.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
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

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Technical Sales Manager

£45000 - £53000 Per Annum plus bonus plus package: The Green Recruitment Compa...

Humanities Teacher

£110 - £135 per day + Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone: Outstan...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor