Ukraine crisis: ‘We will stand with Ukraine’, says President Barack Obama as Russian troops mass on Crimean boarder

 

washington

Barack Obama held a high-profile meeting with Ukraine’s Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at the White House in a calculated display for the Kremlin of the West’s backing – moral, financial and diplomatic – for the embattled new government in Kiev.

“We will stand with Ukraine,” Mr Obama declared afterwards, before repeating his warning that Russia would have to pay a cost if it failed to change its policies.

The meeting came just four days before Sunday’s referendum in Crimea on whether the territory should rejoin Russia, amid accusations by Kiev that Moscow was engaged in a major military build-up along the border.

According to the Ukrainian authorities, the build-up, involving more than 80,000 troops, created “the threat of a full-scale invasion”. That claim was swiftly denied by the Russian Deputy Defence Minister. But it only heightened tensions, given that President Vladimir Putin pledged his readiness “to use all means” to protect the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine.

Tonight, as Nato sent two aircraft to monitor Ukrainian and Black Sea airspace, the impasse appeared total. Hours before Mr Yatsenyuk met Mr Obama, the G-7 issued a joint statement declaring they would not recognise the referendum, which the West regards as illegal. “We call on the Russian Federation to immediately halt actions supporting a referendum on the territory of Crimea regarding its status, in direct violation of the constitution of Ukraine,” the statement said.

But that demand seemed certain to fall on deaf ears. Thus far Moscow has brushed off every Western retaliation – from visa bans affecting unspecified individuals to the threat of economic sanctions and the suspension of planning for the G-8 summit scheduled for Sochi in June.

Even so, the two sides are continuing to talk, if only past each other. Today Mr Putin spoke by phone with President François Hollande of France, but the differing accounts of the conversation merely underlined the gulf between them. For the Kremlin, it was a chance to discuss ways of gaining “international support” for a solution to the crisis. In Paris, Mr Hollande denounced the “ unacceptable annexation” of Crimea.

Separately, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is holding hastily arranged talks in London tomorrow with  his Russian opposite number Sergei Lavrov.

Meanwhile Mr Yatsenyuk was trying to turn symbolic support into financial assistance, not least to boost defences against a Russia that is “armed to the teeth”.

While the EU has promised $15bn of aid, the US thus far has offered loan guarantees worth only $1bn, yet to be approved by Congress. But even the larger sum falls well short of the $35bn which the Ukrainian authorities say is needed by the end of 2015 to stave off financial collapse. 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions