NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The White House said President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone on Saturday as the U.S. reviews Russia’s military moves in Ukraine.
President Obama spent 90 minutes on the phone with Putin, trying to persuade hi to back off, but without success, CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu reported.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday the United Nations is “gravely concerned” following the Russian takeover of a part of Ukraine, and has called for an immediate restoration of calm and discussions.
Russia executed a de facto military takeover of the strategic region of Crimea in Ukraine as the parliament in Moscow gave President Vladimir Putin a green light Saturday to proceed to protect Russian interests. The newly installed government in Kiev was powerless to react to the swift takeover of Crimea by Russian troops already in Ukraine and more flown in, aided by pro-Russian Ukrainian groups.
In a statement, the U.N. said Ban “reiterates his call for the full respect for and preservation of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. He calls for an immediate restoration of calm and direct dialogue between all concerned to solve the current crisis.”
Ban plans to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine. He was about to fly to Europe Saturday and asked Deputy Secretary Jan Eliasson to attend a Security Council session Saturday and brief members of the council on the situation.
Putin’s move followed President Barack Obama’s warning Friday “there will be costs” if Russia intervenes militarily, sharply raising the stakes in the conflict over Ukraine’s future and evoking memories of Cold War brinkmanship. The explicit reference to the use of troops escalated days of conflict between the two countries, which started when Ukraine’s pro-Russian president was pushed out by a protest movement of people who wanted closer ties to the European Union.
“I’m submitting a request for using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine pending the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country,” Putin said in his request sent to parliament.
Putin’s call came as pro-Russian demonstrations broke out in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east, where protesters raised Russian flags and clashed with supporters of the new Ukrainian government.
Russia’s upper house also recommended that Moscow recall its ambassador from Washington over Obama’s comments.
Ukraine had already accused Russia on Friday of a “military invasion and occupation” of the Crimea peninsula, where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk called on Moscow “to recall their forces, and to return them to their stations,” according to the Interfax news agency. “Russian partners, stop provoking civil and military resistance in Ukraine.”