While traveling in Mexico on Wednesday, President Obama addressed the ongoing violence in Ukraine on Wednesday with a strong statement aimed primarily at the Ukrainian government. "The US condemns in strongest terms the violence" in the country, said Obama, according to the White House's pool report, adding, "We hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protestors in an appropriate way."
In his statement to reporters, Obama added that the White House was "going to be watching very carefully," and expected the Ukrainian government to "show restraint" in the future. He added that he expected the "peaceful protesters to remain peaceful," and that "there will be consequences if people step over the line... that includes making sure that the Ukrainian military does not step into [a set of issues that should be settled by civilians]." Obama also indicated that the US was "deeply engaged" with European allies over the crisis. Here's the full statement from the pool:
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the violence that’s taking place. And we have been deeply engaged with our European partners as well as the Ukrainian government and the opposition to try to ensure that that violence ends. But we hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protestors in an appropriate way, that the Ukrainian people are able to assemble and speak freely about their interests without fear of repression. And I want to be very clear as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we’re going to be watching closely and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protestors.
We’ve also said we expect peaceful protestors to remain peaceful and we’ll be monitoring very closely the situation, recognizing that with our European partners and the international community there will be consequences if people step over the line. And that includes making sure the Ukrainian military does not step into what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians. So the United States will continue to engage with all sides in the dispute in Ukraine and ultimately our interest is to make sure the Ukrainian people can express their own desires and we believe a large majority of Ukrainians are interested in an integration with Europe and the commerce and cultural exchanges that are possible for them to expand opportunity and prosperity. But regardless of how the Ukrainian people determine their own future it is important the people themselves make those decisions and that’s what the United States will continue to strive to achieve.
Meanwhile, Russia blamed the U.S. and the West for the increasing violence in Ukraine this week. In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the conflict was "a direct result of connivance by Western politicians and European structures that have shut their eyes ... on the aggressive actions of radical forces." Given all the other battles between the Russians and Americans in recent months, it's no surprise that the two nations find themselves butting heads on international relations once again.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.